The Danger of Dehydration: Are You Taking the Right Steps to Prevent it?

The summer is in full swing along with the blazing hot temperatures as proof. This means an increased risk for your child to experience dehydration, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke.

DEHYDRATION

Dehydration is caused when a person’s body loses more fluids than it is getting.

“It can be very dangerous,” explained Erica Gallagher, THTC Community Outreach Coordinator and a Certified Respiratory Therapist at Trinity Hospital Twin City. “So, we as mothers really have to advocate and make sure [our kids] are getting enough water.”

She explained that with summer temperatures often soaring into the 90s, dehydration becomes all too common. “Especially for young children and infants. They can’t or won’t tell you how thirsty they are because they’re having fun,” added Gallagher.

Prevention:

Make sure your child is drinking enough water and taking regular breaks to cool off. Recommendations vary in terms of how much water intake a child should get based on age, activity, temperature etc. However; Gallagher has a simple rule to follow: “A half an ounce per pound of body weight,” she explained. “Everybody is different. You could have a child that’s 75 pounds and 50 pounds that are the same age. So, obviously one will need more water to supplement the water their body is putting out than the other.”

Half an ounce per every pound. If your child weighs 100 pounds, then he/she needs approximately 50 ounces of water and so on. However; Gallagher notes that the recommendation is a base-intake. Meaning, this amount of water is only enough if your child is not participating in any physical activity. The more energy they exert, the more water they will need.

Symptoms in Infants or Young Children:

  • Dry mouth or tongue
  • No tears when they cry
  • No wet diapers for three hours or more
  • Sunken eyes or cheeks
  • Sunken soft spot on the top of an infant’s skull
  • Listlessness (lack of responding)
  • Irritability

Gallagher noted that the main cause for dehydration in infants or young children is diarrhea or vomiting. If your child is experiencing either, she strongly recommends you increase their water or Pedialyte intake as well.

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She noted that while your older children can tell you if they are thirsty, or feeling ‘off,’ they still may not. “They are not going to tell you how thirsty they are because they are having fun.”

Symptoms in Older Children:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Less frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

If your child becomes dehydrated, Gallagher encourages water, Pedialyte or even Gatorade as a solution to rehydrate.

HEAT EXHAUSTION

Heat Exhaustion is caused when a person is exposed to high temperatures, particularly combined with high humidity, and intense physical activity. “It is your body overheating,” explained Gallagher. “With so much water in the air with high humidity, you’re not sweating quite a much and that is the body’s natural response to cool itself.”

Prevention:

Water continues to be the best solution to avoiding heat-related illness. Gallagher notes it is critical that you do not give your child juice, especially if it has a lot of sugar, or pop. “That could actually increase diarrhea and vomiting,’ she added, which can lead to dehydration.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Rapid pulse
  • Cold or moist skin or goosebumps while in the heat
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Muscle Ache

Gallagher stresses that while all symptoms mean there is a problem, muscle aches are a step toward a heat stroke, which is extremely dangerous and life-threatening.

HEAT STROKE

“Heat stroke occurs when your core body temperature (natural body temperature) along with the environment reaches over 104 degrees F,” explained Gallagher. She noted, however; that if you take your child’s temperature and they have a fever, that does not give you a reading of their ‘core’ temperature, which often must be determined at the hospital.

Gallagher stressed the importance of being aware of the signs of dehydration and heat exhaustion to prevent your child’s illness from reaching the severity of a heat stroke, which again, can be life-threatening.

She added that parents can avoid a trip to the emergency room by being aware and taking the appropriate steps to avoid your child being at risk of a heat-related illness. “[Have] your child wear loose-fitting or lightweight clothing; definitely put on sunscreen because sunburn can affect the body’s ability to cool itself as well, and drink plenty of fluids.”

Electrolyte Recipe

Healthy Tip Tuesday is a Newsymom.com exclusive informational series brought to you by Trinity Hospital Twin City.

 

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