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Daddy went into a stage of "no fluids by mouth" and lasted about a week. It was Christmas time, and my brother, who is an EMT gave him 2 IV bags of fluids, simply so he would NOT pass at Christmas. He didn't. He lived 45 minutes into New Year's day. He could swallow morphine drops, but that doesn't count as fluid. His urine output completely stopped a couple of days before he died. Hospice as there for us, and they were angels. Once the fluid intake stops, you have only days left. If that. Daddy was NEVER in pain. So grateful for that.
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The answer is dependent on many factors. I had a terminal patient survive on around an ounce a day for more than 2 weeks.
Outside temperature, exertion rate, fever, quantity taken in (orally, IV, rectally, etc.), sweating, respiration (water lost through breathing) etc. all are factors.
In the dying process, the patient refuses or is unable to take fluids in preparation to die. The kidneys shut down when there is no outside fluid ingested and all excess water has been filtered from the blood. Everybody has a different time line for this to happen. If this is during the dying process, IMO, it's better to NOT try to force fluids. It interrupts the transition. Is this difficult? You know it. No one wants to think they withheld needed fluids from a loved one. But if you change your thought that you are assisting/helping the person to have an easier time passing on, then it might make more sense to not give any fluids.
My thoughts are with you. I've been there with both my patients and my dad. Talk to a hospice nurse (you can ask for counseling even if your loved one doesn't have hospice or that hospice company) to get more information. This is something that they (we) deal with daily.
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Mcdonald, this is a case by case situation. For some people, as cwillie mentioned above, maybe a couple of days, a week at the most.

I hope this patient is on Hospice as not being able to take in fluids due to the organs shutting down could be very uncomfortable. Hospice will help keep that person from being in pain.
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Do you mean absolutely nothing by mouth and no IV either? I think the measure would be made in hours and perhaps days, no more.
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