How to Hydrate Fast if You're Super Dehydrated

Looking for the quickest hydration boost? Try these expert-backed rehydration strategies.

Medically reviewed by Vivek Cherian, MDFact checked by Haley Mades

When you get enough fluids on any typical day, you might feel a boost in energy levels, improved focus and cognitive performance, and a more efficient metabolism. But a day out in the heat or completing an intense workout can quickly deplete your fluid levels. In such circumstances, a glass of water is sometimes not enough to rehydrate. Here, health experts offer insight into how to hydrate fast so you can feel like yourself again in no time.

Meet the Experts

  • Vanda Carapichoso is an intensive care physician and founder of the elder care service VCCare.

  • Jared Braunstein, DO is a board-certified doctor with Medical Offices of Manhattan.

<p> banjongseal324/Getty Images</p>

banjongseal324/Getty Images

What Is Healthy Hydration?

It’s a well-known fact that staying hydrated is important for overall health, and many pre-packaged drinks and powders claim to do the trick. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), healthy hydration means drinking enough water and natural fluids for your body to function properly.

Of course, this varies for each individual, based on body weight, age, activity level, and heat exposure. However, as a rule of thumb, the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggests 15.5 cups of fluids per day for people assigned male at birth and 11.5 cups for those assigned female at birth.

Staying Hydrated Throughout the Day

Only about 20% of water intake will come from water-rich foods, like fruits and vegetables; the remainder comes from drinking water and other liquids. During peak seasons and times of day, your body might need a boost. But despite the temptation to guzzle a gallon at once, Jared Braunstein, DO, recommends otherwise.

"Drink water throughout the day instead of all at once," Braunstein says. "Your body absorbs water more effectively...and drinking too much water can cause hyponatremia, a condition in which the balance of fluids in your body is thrown off. Pay attention to what your body tells you, and drink when you're thirsty."

Also, rehydration is crucial for older adults. As we age, we are more prone to dehydration because our appetite and thirst tend to diminish. At the same time, though, older adults are also likely to be taking medications that increase dehydration. Physician Vanda Carapichoso says to encourage small sips of water throughout the day, even if your loved one doesn't feel like it, to rehydrate consistently but quickly.

Signs of Dehydration

Dehydration can be easy to spot. Symptoms include dry mouth, dark yellow urine, tiredness, and headaches, says Carapichoso. “If you're experiencing severe symptoms like extreme thirst, dark urine, dizziness, confusion, or rapid heartbeat, it's wise to seek medical help for an IV,” Carapichoso advises.

Otherwise, staying hydrated takes constant effort. It's important to remain in tune with your body to watch for signs of thirst. Underlying health conditions and medicinal routines can also make increased hydration a must. So talk to your health care provider for personalized advice on maintaining hydration levels appropriate for your health, age, and needs.

Seek Medical Care

Both experts say that severe dehydration symptoms must be treated with an IV under a physician’s care.

When Is Extra Hydration Necessary?

For most instances of mild dehydration, rehydration can usually be managed at home with water, nutrient-rich foods, and rest. But, there are moments when drinking more than usual can be beneficial. Here are four instances when you must pro-actively hydrate more than normal.

High Altitude

Due to the high altitude and low humidity, airplane cabins can be surprisingly dry. “This can cause you to lose more fluids when you breathe," Braunstein explains.

Plus, long trips can throw off your normal schedule of drinking water. Drink water before, during, and after the trip to avoid dehydration.

People who live in or visit high-altitude places are also encouraged to drink more water because sun and wind exposure can deplete the body of fluids at a faster rate than when closer to sea level. When in a high-altitude area or environment, it's important to consistently drink water and fluids to replenish the loss.

Extreme Heat

Hot and humid weather can also cause the body to lose fluids, so increase fluid intake to make up for anything the body loses in sweat. Keep this in mind when working outside, having a fun day at the beach, or whenever prolonged heat exposure occurs. Carry a refillable water bottle with you to help you stay hydrated.


Sickness is another instance when your body can rapidly lose a lot of fluid. Fever, vomiting, or diarrhea call for electrolyte-rich drinks, lots of water, or (at times) oral rehydration solutions. Some medical procedures also lead to fluid loss, Braunstein says, so consult your doctor for tips on how to rehydrate after any surgeries or medical procedures.

Intense Exercise

Braunstein explains that during exercise, our bodies lose a lot of fluid through sweating, especially in high-intensity training, long-distance running, or intense sports. “It's important to drink water before, during, and after exercise to keep chemical balance and avoid getting dehydrated,” Braunstein adds. Take breaks during your workout to sip on water and avoid dehydration.

How to Hydrate Fast at Home

For less severe cases of dehydration when medical help is not required, it’s possible to hydrate efficiently and conveniently at home. Follow these tips for rehydrating quickly and safely.

Drink Water

Drinking water is (of course) one of the best ways to hydrate and rehydrate your body. Braunstein recommends carrying a water bottle around as a reminder to drink up. Additionally, Braunstein suggests sipping through a straw to consume more with minimal effort.

Sip Electrolyte-Rich Drinks

Braunstein also recommends drinking coconut water, which contains essential electrolytes, a group of nutrients that help restore, regulate, and circulate fluids in the body. The vital minerals categorized as electrolytes include potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, and more, and together, they can speed up fluid absorption and improve overall health. Other rehydration solutions include caffeine-free herbal teas, nutrient-rich clear broth or soup, and Oral Rehydration Solutions (ORS) with a balanced blend of electrolytes and carbohydrates.

Homemade Electrolyte Drink Recipe

Carapichoso shares a DIY electrolyte drink recipe that uses just three ingredients: water, salt, and sugar. The drink can be chilled or sipped at room temperature to replenish electrolytes lost during vigorous exercise, extremely hot weather, or other activities involving excessive sweating and exertion.

The uncanny mix of glucose and sodium may be odd to the palate but is great for restoring fluid balance in the body in circumstances where fast rehydration is necessary. To make this simple and hydrating electrolyte drink at home, simply mix 1 liter of water, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and two tablespoons of sugar. That's it—drink and enjoy!

Eat Water-Rich Foods

Water and fluids aren't the only way to stay hydrated. There are plenty of hydrating foods to eat throughout the day—especially fruits and veggies—that can help increase your daily fluid intake. Snack on water-rich fruits like watermelon, strawberries, grapes, cantaloupe, oranges, or hydrating vegetables like cucumbers and celery, Braunstein suggests.

Avoid Dehydrating Foods

Hydration is not just about knowing what to consume; it’s also about knowing what to avoid. Though counterintuitive, some drinks can dehydrate you rather than help hydrate. Likewise, some foods deplete body fluids, requiring you to rehydrate after eating them. If you’re trying to hydrate fast, Braunstein recommends avoiding caffeine and alcohol, while Carapichoso says to limit added sugars, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to rehydrate your body?

Depending on the level of dehydration, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days to rehydrate your body. Mild dehydration can be reversed in as little as five minutes, though rest and continued fluid replacement are essential for a full recovery. Moderate or severe dehydration can take hours, even days, to be cured. For severe dehydration symptoms, it's best to seek medical attention.

Does colder water hydrate you faster?

Surprisingly, there's not much research or scientific evidence on whether drinking cold water vs. room temperature (or hot) water is best. Drinking cold water helps regulate your body temperature and is more palatable, encouraging most people to consume a higher quantity. On the other hand, drinking warm water can help with digestion, but it can also make you feel less thirsty, causing you to drink less.

Can chugging water hydrate you fast?

As mentioned by Dr. Braunstein, chugging a ton of water at one time may quench thirst, but it doesn't help you hydrate faster. To help protect you from hyponatremia (when sodium levels are thrown off by fluid imbalance), your body will likely eliminate the sudden water influx via urine. Instead, drinking continuously throughout the day is best to help your body absorb the fluids.

Related: How to Drink More Water Each Day and Stay Hydrated

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