Dehydration in Children: Signs, Treatment, and Prevention

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Throughout our daily lives, we continuously lose water and minerals. We do so when we cry, sweat, use the toilet, or even breathe. Water also evaporates through our skin constantly. However, we get to replace it as we eat and drink. It’s easier for adults to maintain this balance, but children have a higher metabolic rate and may lose water and minerals more quickly. 

Coupled with the fact that they can’t always communicate that they’re thirsty, are more susceptible to diarrheal diseases, and don’t have the ability to hydrate themselves, kids are at greater risk for dehydration.

Dehydration happens when the body loses too much water and electrolytes, which are minerals that help us maintain multiple bodily functions. This condition may be more easily manageable in adults, but it can have more severe consequences in children whose bodies are still developing.

Children who experience dehydration will not have enough water and electrolytes in their bodies to function properly. The condition can quickly worsen and cause organ damage or lead to fatalities.

Causes of Dehydration in Children

Children have tiny bodies that have smaller water reserves. Because of this, they’re naturally more susceptible to dehydration than teenagers and adults. 

Dehydration happens when the body loses more water and electrolytes than it gains, and this can occur when children don’t drink enough water. They can also lose hydration more quickly when they experience vomiting, diarrhea, infections, fever, excessive sweating, hot and humid weather, and some chronic illnesses like diabetes.

What Are the Signs of Dehydration in Children?

Dehydration can happen to any child, but it is especially worrisome if it happens to toddlers and infants. Some warning signs of this condition include:

  • Dark-colored urine
  • Little-to-no urine for at least eight hours
  • Dry lips and eyes
  • Cold or dry skin
  • Low energy levels
  • Crankiness and irritability
  • No tears when crying
  • Excessively fast heart rate or breathing.

Dehydrated babies may also show sunken eyes or a sunken soft spot on their heads. Children may also lose significant amounts of body weight.

Make sure to monitor your child closely, especially if they’re experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, overheating, fever, and chronic illnesses. It’s best to take them to the nearest urgent care clinic if they show signs of dehydration.

Treating Dehydration in Children

Urgent care doctors will examine your child and possibly run urine and blood tests to check the extent of dehydration. They will determine how much water and electrolytes they should replenish to restore the child’s normal hydration levels.

Most mild to moderate cases will only require oral rehydration solutions (ORS). Children can take small and frequent sips of fluids until they’re rehydrated. In infants, breastfeeding would suffice because breast milk has all the water and nutrients that they need. Severe cases require the help of an urgent care clinic, as the medical professionals will have to administer intravenous (IV) fluids to the child.

Preventing Dehydration

Ensuring proper hydration in your child requires regular monitoring, especially in the warmer months or when they’re physically active. Make sure they’re drinking lots of fluids and wearing appropriate clothing during these times. It’s also helpful to have regular check-ups to stay on top of their physical conditions. 

The Takeaway

Children are at greater risk of dehydration than adults, especially with their naturally smaller water reserves and their faster metabolic rates. Knowing the warning signs of this condition helps prevent the severe consequences of not having enough hydration in children. If you suspect that your child may be dehydrated, it’s best to contact urgent care right away.

Are you looking for an urgent care clinic in Orlando, FL? Your Kid’s Urgent Care is the place to go. We’ll provide your child with the highest quality of pediatric services, and we also offer telemedicine for remote check-ups. Contact us today.

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