Getting dehydrated during the summer is easy, especially if you are traveling through hot tropical countries. Heat, intense physical activities, unfamiliar or not completely clean food, kids easily get sick, or just sweat more than they can replenish with drinks. Warning signs are very difficult to see, particularly in children, until the dehydration becomes serious. Learning how to recognize dehydration can save your child”s life, particularly if you are far away from the doctor.
Why do we get dehydrated?
Dehydration happens when we lose too much liquid from our system and do not replenish it. The most common causes are diarrhea and vomiting, but also excessive sweating. Our body tries to absorb some fluid from the blood and tissues, but at some point it is not enough and the body goes into shock. Dehydration, if not treated, can be deadly.
Adults have signs of dehydration, such as headache, muscle cramps and the feeling of faintness. Children have difficulty figuring out what is wrong. It is up to the parents to watch for the signs of dehydration and to make sure that they drink enough.
Kids and dehydration
Children, especially very small, are in bigger danger of rapid dehydration because their bodies consist of proportionally more water than adults, they have higher metabolic rate and they often refuse to drink when they do not feel good. Since they will not know what is wrong, and will not be able to tell you how they feel, you should look for signs:
- They are cranky and cry without tears;
- The baby”s diaper is dry and older children do not ask to go to the bathroom for more than three hours;
- The mouth and tongue feel dry;
- Kids” ™ eyes and cheeks look sunken;
- They have a high fever.
Preventing and treating dehydration
If your child has diarrhea or is vomiting, talk to your doctor right away. In most cases diarrhea and vomiting go away on their own, and your biggest enemy is dehydration. Children do not only lose water with diarrhea and vomiting, but minerals as well. Your doctor will recommend Pedialyte, which has all the electrolytes the child needs. If the child is severely dehydrated, your doctor might recommend intravenous liquid in the hospital. In many developing countries, which you might visit during your summer travels, doctors tend to recommend intravenous glucose even when oral rehydration drink is sufficient.
Make sure that your kids drink water before going out to play and after they come back;
If they do not want to drink water, juice is fine, and so are always favorite popsicles.
Keep the kids indoors during the hottest parts of the day. If you cannot, water games are the best, even if it is just a garden hose. They will absorb enough water through skin, and water will keep them cool.
Home made rehydration drinks
If you are at home, get ready-made rehydration drinks made for children, such as Pedialyte. They have electrolytes balanced for children” ™ needs. If you find yourself far from any pharmacy or well-stocked store on some tropical island, make your own: mix a liter or more of clean, filtered water with 6 teaspoons of sugar and half teaspoon of salt. If you have some juice, mix it too, it will improve a pretty uninteresting flavor. Measure carefully, too much sugar can make things worse.