Pedialyte is an over-the-counter (OTC) oral rehydration drink that’s effective for all age groups, including children over the age of 1, adults, and older adults. It targets electrolyte imbalances caused by dehydration.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how Pedialyte can help with dehydration, how to use it, and other options for staying hydrated.
Pedialyte contains electrolytes as well as a small amount of sugar (glucose).
Electrolytes are mineral nutrients such as sodium, potassium, and chloride that help to control fluid levels in your body. These nutrients also help maintain your blood pressure, allow your nerves to send and receive electrical signals, and regulate pH levels.
The precise combination of electrolytes and sugars in Pedialyte helps to restore fluid levels and the nutrients that are lost through sweating, urinating, or vomiting and diarrhea.
It’s more effective than water — which does not contain electrolytes — at treating mild to moderate dehydration.
Pedialyte is also more effective at restoring your fluid levels than beverages such as sodas, juices, or sports drinks. These drinks are often too high in sugar and too low in sodium (salt), an electrolyte that’s usually lost during diarrhea and vomiting.
All Pedialyte products can be used by children or adults. There are, though, some product flavors and formats — such as Pedialyte freeze pops — designed specifically to appeal to children.
Pedialyte is meant to be taken by mouth, according to the instructions on the product package. Shake the bottle well before drinking the Pedialyte solution.
Unless recommended by a healthcare professional, liquid forms of Pedialyte should not be mixed with other fluids such as water, juices, milk, or formula. Doing so will alter the ratio of electrolytes and sugars. This can make Pedialyte less effective.
Some brands of Pedialyte come in a powdered form. This type of product will need to be mixed with 8 ounces of water (not juice or any other type of beverage) before being consumed.
If you don’t like the taste, there are several flavors that may be easier to drink, such as strawberry, grape, or bubble gum.
How much to take
- If you or your child has lost a lot of fluid because of diarrhea or vomiting, you may need 4–8 servings (32 to 64 ounces) of Pedialyte a day to prevent dehydration.
- Talk with your doctor if vomiting, diarrhea, or fever lasts for more than 24 hours.
Signs of mild to moderate dehydration in adults include:
- dry mouth
- light-headedness, dizziness
- muscle cramps
- decreased urination
- dark urine
- dry skin
Adults and elderly people may not notice thirst until dehydration has already set in.
Severe dehydration requires immediate medical attention. You should seek immediate medical help if you experience any of the following signs and symptoms:
Signs of mild to moderate dehydration in infants and children include:
- dry mouth and tongue
- little to no tear production when crying
- infrequent urination—no wet diapers for 3 hours, or less than 6 wet diapers a day
- disinterest in playing
- sunken soft spot atop head (babies)
In infants and children, severe dehydration can cause these additional symptoms:
- extreme fussiness
- extreme sleepiness
- sunken eyes
- wrinkled skin
- cold or discolored skin
- urination only once or twice a day
- dark urine
- racing heartbeat
- fast breath
If your toddler or child is showing any of the signs listed above, seek emergency medical attention right away.
Dehydration occurs when your total fluid output exceeds the fluids you take in.
You don’t have to have an illness to experience fluid loss. The following can contribute to dehydration:
- Not drinking enough water. One of the most common causes of dehydration is not drinking enough water throughout the day.
- Exercise. When you exercise, particularly in a warm environment, you may lose more body fluid than usual through your sweat.
- Hot climate. Living or working in a hot climate can increase how much you sweat.
- Fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. Illnesses that cause symptoms such as a high temperature, diarrhea, or vomiting can deplete your body’s fluids.
- Chronic illnesses. Long-term illnesses such as diabetes can cause frequent urination.
- Other substances. Diuretics, including alcohol, can cause your body to expel more urine than usual. Some common medications, such as blood pressure drugs, also have diuretic effects.
To prevent dehydration, try to repeatedly sip or drink water throughout the day. It’s recommended that:
- adults drink about 8 cups (2 liters) of water a day
- children drink between 5 and 8 cups a day, depending on their age
If you find it difficult to measure fluid intake throughout the day, get into the habit of constantly sipping water as you go about your daily activities.
If you find it hard to drink a lot of water, you can also try drinking:
- water infused with fruit
- sparkling unsweetened flavored water
- low-fat milk
- decaffeinated herbal tea
You can also increase your fluid intake by eating foods high in water, such as:
The only way to treat dehydration is to replace lost fluids and electrolytes. This may vary according to your age, how severe your dehydration is, and what caused it.
For babies younger than 1 year old, talk with your doctor about how to treat mild to moderate dehydration. Giving small quantities of undiluted breastmilk or formula is usually recommended.
Your doctor might also recommend a small quantity of Pedialyte or another OTC oral rehydration solution between feedings.
For toddlers and older children
For toddlers and older children, oral rehydration solutions such as Pedialyte are the best treatment. Try to avoid giving your child water alone, as it may further deplete their electrolytes.
If your child is having difficulty keeping liquids down, try giving them smaller amounts of Pedialyte using a spoon or by squirting a little into their mouth with a syringe.
Older children can have juice or sports drinks if you don’t have an oral rehydration solution on hand.
Be sure to dilute the juice or sports drinks with an equal quantity of water first, as too much sugar can worsen dehydration.
For mild to moderate dehydration in adults, opt for water, diluted juice, or sports drinks if you don’t have Pedialyte on hand.
If you, your child, or loved one has symptoms of severe dehydration that aren’t getting better, get to the emergency room as soon as you can. Medical treatment typically involves administering fluids and electrolytes intravenously. This treatment works faster than replenishing fluids orally.
Pedialyte is an OTC rehydration drink for both children and adults. It’s one of the most effective and safest treatments available for mild to moderate dehydration. Because it contains electrolytes, it’s more effective than drinking only water if you’ve lost a lot of fluids.
You can prevent dehydration by drinking water regularly throughout the day. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty, as this often means you’re already dehydrated.