Dehydration in Children
Dehydration is a health problem in which the body becomes deficient in water and necessary salts. It occurs due to excess vomiting, diarrhea, or sweating.
The body organs are not able to perform their functions properly. The most important signs include dryness of skin, dry tongue, rapid breathing, and fainting in extreme cases. If a child suffers from dehydration he/she may not be able to recover the lost body fluids. In severe cases of dehydration, you must take the child to the hospital. Let’s see the causes, signs & symptoms, preventions, treatments, and tips to avoid dehydration in children.
Note: It should be treated immediately because, in severe cases of dehydration, it can lead to the stage of a coma.
Causes of Dehydration in Children
Dehydration may occur due to less drinking of water, especially in the summer. Many children are not in the habit of drinking enough water as they are busy playing. There is more loss of fluids from the body than intake. This is what is one of the main causes of dehydration in children. Other causes of dehydration in children include the following:
Vomiting and Diarrhea:
Severe vomiting and diarrhea are the main causes of dehydration in children. This can cause excessive loss of fluids and electrolytes from the body quickly and can lead to severe dehydration in children.
Some children play in the sun during summer which leads to excessive sweat and children also fail to drink enough water. High humidity and heat can lead to more sweating and this causes more loss of fluids from the body.
Your child may suffer from dehydration if he/she is suffering from a high fever. The risk of dehydration increases if fever, vomiting, and diarrhea are also present.
Diabetes in Children:
Some children are at a higher risk of dehydration if they suffer from diabetes. Diabetic children need to drink more water as they pass more urine as compared to the normal children and if they fail to drink enough water they can suffer from dehydration.
Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration in Children
The important dehydration symptoms in children include the following:
- Dryness of mouth, lips, and tongue. The mouth becomes dry due to a deficiency of fluids in the body.
- The skin becomes dry and hard due to excessive loss of fluids from the body in the form of vomiting or diarrhea.
- Tears do not roll out from the eyes when the child cries
- The child may not pass urine for eight hours or more and only use less than 6 diapers in a day
- The eyes become sunken
- The breathing becomes hard and rapid
- The hands and feet become cold and trembling
- The head also becomes cold
Precautions to Take at Home When a Child Becomes Dehydrated
You can take some precautions at home if your child starts showing the symptoms of dehydration. You can take the following precautions:
- Avoid giving any medicine for diarrhea if your child is below two years without consulting with a doctor.
- Give more fluids to your child including fruit juices, lemon water, oral rehydration solution, etc. Avoid giving artificial fruit drinks as too much sugar in such drinks can make some symptoms worse.
- If your child is breastfeeding, continue to breastfeed your child as frequently as possible.
- Slowly start giving some liquid food such as rice water or rice pudding to your child that can be digested easily and quickly
- If your child has a fever, you can give medicine for the fever after consulting with a doctor. Avoid giving any medicine without consulting with a doctor.
If the condition of the child does not improve you must take your child to the hospital.
When to Call a Doctor?
If the condition of your child does not improve at home you must call a doctor immediately. You must call the doctor when
- Your child is not taking anything to drink for a few hours
- If your child is under one year of age and is not taking your breastfeeding for more than a day
- If the child is vomiting many times in 24 hours
- If the vomit of the child looks green, brown, or red
- If your child has not eaten anything for 3-4 days
- If your child is not going for urination for many hours, had a dry mouth, lips, and tongue, and you feel sunken soft spots on the head
- If your child is not responding properly
Treatment in the Hospital
For the dehydration in child treatment, the doctor in hospital will check the level of electrolytes and will start giving electrolyte solutions through the intravenous route for a quick recovery.
- The doctor will give medicine if your child will have a fever
- The doctor will give some medicine for vomiting or diarrhoea if needed
- The child will be given complete rest.
Tips to Prevent Dehydration
Dehydration in children can be prevented by drinking enough water and eating foods that have high water content. Many fruits and vegetables are good to compensate for the excess loss of water. You can use the following tips to prevent dehydration in your child:
- If the child suffers from vomiting and diarrhea you should start giving more water or give ORS solution to prevent dehydration. So, when you notice the signs of vomiting and diarrhea start giving more fluids.
- When your child goes out to play in the sun, make sure he/she carries a water bottle. You can add some energy drink or sweetened drink to the bottle to prevent dehydration.
- Encourage your child to drink more water during hot and humid weather so that if your child sweats more the lost fluids can be compensated by drinking more water.
- Give more fruits to your child. Fruits such as watermelon, orange, and raspberries are good sources of water content and such fruits can fulfil the demand for extra water in the body during summers.
- Encourage your child to eat a healthy diet during summer to prevent food poisoning which can lead to excessive vomiting and diarrhea.
- Ensure that your child does not eat anything from outside especially in summer because outside food may be stale which can lead to food poisoning.
Thus, you can prevent dehydration in your child by taking suitable precautions and ensuring that your child drinks enough water.