Patients who are dehydrated or who are at risk of becoming dehydrated are frequently treated with hydration therapy. In low-risk patients, the therapy may simply involve having the patient drink more water. If a patient is unable to drink enough water, or if the patient is already dehydrated, medical professionals can also administer fluids through an intravenous (IV) or subcutaneous line. Alternative medicine and homeopathy also frequently use hydration therapy to improve a patient's general health.
Proper hydration is essential to good health. While most liquids will hydrate a person, water is the best hydrator and is almost always used in hydration therapy. Occasionally, doctors may prescribe waters that have sugars and electrolytes in them, though in lower quantities than what can be found in juices or sports drinks. Patients who are ill or injured and are being treated at home will often be asked to use hydration therapy as a part of their treatment. In these cases, the patients must simply make sure that they drink as much water as their health care provider instructs them to, which is often between 9 and 13 cups (2.2 and 3 liters) per day, though some patients may require more.
If a patient has been hospitalized, or if the patient is receiving home care from a doctor or nurse, another type of hydration therapy may be used. Medical professionals will frequently give patients fluids through an IV or, in some cases, under the skin in a subcutaneous line. These fluids are made up of mostly water, but they also contain salts and sometimes sugars. Patients can be kept properly hydrated or brought to a proper level of hydration through the use of IV or subcutaneous therapy.
In homeopathic and alternative medicine, hydration therapy is also commonly used. Most of these treatments rely upon the use of specialty waters that have been treated with herbs or altered in some other way. Water may be infused with herbs and then diluted until these herbs are undetectable. The pH and salinity of the water may also be adjusted, and trace elements of minerals can be either filtered out or added into the water. While there has not been any scientific evidence to prove that these homeopathic waters are any more hydrating than normal, clean water, patients do often benefit from this treatment because they are drinking more water than they might otherwise.