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Dehydration In Children: Signs & Treatment

Dehydration in children, the signs and treatment.

Dehydration in children occurs when a child loses a lot of body fluids, which results in body malfunctioning. 

Children love to play even in hot weather conditions. However, mothers need to know that a child won’t be able to adjust to weather conditions as an adult will. 

Their physical surface area is substantially larger than an adult’s as a percentage of their total weight. 

As a result, they generate more heat and sweat less than adults during physical activity. This impairs their ability to expel body heat and may result in dehydration.

How can you handle dehydration in children? What signs to look out for? How do you perform a dehydration test? 

Signs of dehydration in children 

Dehydration occurs when a person loses so much body fluid that they cannot function normally. Dehydration can occur due to vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, or a lack of water intake. 

If a child is very dehydrated, they may not be able to replace body fluids with typical drinking or eating. As a result, the child may need to be admitted to the hospital in certain situations.

What are the common signs of dehydration? First, let’s look at some characters in your child when they are dehydrated. 

  • The lips and tongue are both dry.
  • When crying, there are no tears.
  • Less than six wet diapers per day are recommended for babies, with no wet diapers or pee for at least eight hours (in toddlers).
  • Soft spot on the infant’s head.
  • Eyes sunk in.
  • Skin that is dry and wrinkled.
  • Rapid, deep breathing
  • Hands and feet are cool and blotchy.
  • Sluggishness or fatigue 

If your child is suffering early signs of dehydration, such as thirst or a headache, drink water immediately. 

If they are experiencing symptoms like confusion, fainting, or a racing heart, visit a doctor straight soon. Likewise, severe dehydration needs prompt medical attention since it might result in life-threatening conditions. 

Read Also: Things To Know About A Baby’s Throbbing Soft Spot

Treatment of dehydration in children 

Dehydration is treated by restoring the body’s fluid balance. In mild cases, you can get the child to consume water, sports drinks, clear broths, and ice pop. 

Children should avoid caffeine-containing beverages like coffee, tea, and sodas. Intravenous (IV) fluids may be required in more severe cases of dehydration.

Is your child experiencing dehydration? To treat your child, see some treatment options below: 

Mild to moderate dehydration in young children is relatively common, especially if the child has diarrhoea or is vomiting. Contact your child’s paediatrician if your kid has any following symptoms below.

  • He isn’t drinking or eating enough and appears weary, with dark yellow urine or decreased urination.
  • They have a dry mouth and eyes 
  • Is he grumpy or irritable?
  • She is under one year old and vomits more than once

Replace fluids 

What you should do for infants up to 1 year of age: 

  • If you’re breastfeeding, you should nurse more frequently.
  • Give your baby the usual quantity of liquids if you are bottle-feeding unless your infant is vomiting. Give lower amounts if your infant is vomiting. For example, instead of 6 ounces every 4 hours, you might feed 3 ounces every 2 hours. Call your doctor if they vomit.
  • Fluids can also be provided by cereal, strained bananas, and mashed potatoes if your infant consumes solid food.
  • If possible, administer an oral rehydration solution. Salt, sugar, potassium, and other nutrients are all replaced. Consult your doctor for the best type and dosage.

For mild dehydration in children aged 1 to 11, use the following treatment:

  • If the child is vomiting, provide more fluids infrequent, little sips.
  • If feasible, opt for clear soup.
  • Serve popsicles, ice chips, and cereal mixed with milk for added water or drink.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.

Follow up 

  • Allow your child to rest for 24 hours and continue to provide fluids, even if symptoms improve. It could take up to a day and a half to replace all of your juices. Maintain your child’s regular diet as well.
  • The child may require IV fluids in the hospital for severe dehydration. Consult your doctor straight away if you believe your child is not improving or is getting worse.

How to perform a dehydration test 

The elasticity of your skin is referred to as skin turgor. For example, when you pinch the skin on your arm, it should immediately spring back into place. However, it takes longer for your skin to restore to its normal position if you have low skin turgor.

This test is frequently used to detect dehydration. You may have weak skin turgor if you’re dehydrated.

Pinching your child’s skin lightly, generally on their arm or belly, is the most common approach to measure skin turgor. 

It could be a symptom of dehydration if the skin takes longer than usual to recover. This procedure, however, isn’t very exact.

Testing skin turgor is painless and noninvasive, despite its lack of precision. This makes it an excellent tool for detecting indicators of dehydration in children. 

However, a study found that it is only somewhat accurate in detecting hydration levels in children; thus, doctors will frequently utilise other tests.

Prevention of dehydration in children 

Here are a few easy ways to keep your children hydrated while playing outside in the heat:

But, first, learn about the child’s physical condition.

Any child who plays in the heat can suffer from a lack of physical condition. If your child is overweight or has never exercised before, begin carefully. 

Dehydration of more than 3% of body weight raises the risk of a heat-related disease in children. Set practice schedules for kids participating in organised sports during cooler hours, especially if the child isn’t in fantastic form.

Prepare them for the heat.

To avoid dehydration, gradually introduce young athletes to the heat. Then, over 10 to 14 days, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. 

Make sure they have plenty of water to drink.

While sports drinks may be suitable for some children during periods of intense activity, many of them contain high levels of sugar and the necessary water and electrolytes. In addition, their flavour can increase a child’s desire to drink, but the children should only use them during exercise.

On hot days, children and teenagers who exercise vigorously or participate in sports should limit their time on the field by taking more frequent breaks. In addition, before they start playing, young athletes should drink plenty of water. 

Then, while playing, instructors or parents should make sure that children drink around every 20 minutes, even if they aren’t thirsty.

This encourages them to drink more fluids, raise blood volume, and sweat more. Also, sweating aids in the removal of heat from the body.

Know the weather forecast and make your plans appropriately.

Understand the heat index: High air temperatures and humidity are the most deadly combination. For example, heat illness can occur when exercising with a relative humidity of 35% and a temperature of 95°F. 

If the sprinkler systems are turned on before early morning practices, even arid climates might experience significant humidity. 

Children should avoid practice sessions during the hottest part of the day. Instead, make your most challenging workouts early in the morning or late afternoon/evening.

Make sure your children dress appropriately when they go out to play 

The most acceptable apparel is light-coloured and lightweight. Shorts and t-shirts with vents allow heat to escape. 

Allow young players to practice in lighter clothing for a week before engaging in sports that require heavy equipment and protection. Then put on the heavy equipment.

Pay attention to them. 

For children that are often involved in sports practices, check them for symptoms of dehydration or other issues before, during, and after exercise. In addition, pay close attention to athletes eager to compete at or above their potential.

Take a child off the field if they appear to be sick. Then, while the child rests and drinks fluids, keep a watchful eye on him. 

Even though children with moderate heat injuries appear to be OK 15 minutes after receiving water and allowing them to calm down, they are still dehydrated. 

Allow them to take a day off and monitor them when they return to practice the next day.


If your child is unwell or has diarrhoea and is losing too much fluid, you must replace the sugar, salts, and minerals lost by their body.

Your pharmacist or doctor might recommend oral rehydration sachets. These are powders that your child can consume after mixing with water. But, again, inquire with your pharmacist or doctor about appropriate ones for your child. 

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