Is your child suffering from dehydration? Here are some signs

Giving extra fluids or oral rehydration is a solution, especially when your child is vomiting.

By Dr Jagdish Kathwate

Does your child have dry lips, a dry tongue, sunken eyes, or wrinkled skin? Then, he/she might be dehydrated. Here, we tell you about the symptoms and tips to prevent hydration.

Do you often spot your child with wet nappies, headaches or dark yellow urine? If yes, then your child might be suffering from dehydration. Dehydration is caused when there is not enough water in the body. In children, it is usually caused by vomiting, diarrhoea, or even both in some cases. Lack of drinking water due to a sore throat or hyper-activity, and warm weather are also the causes of dehydration among toddlers or small children. However, it can be prevented by following the below tips.

Causes of dehydration in children

Besides viral fevers that cause vomiting and diarrhoea, serious bacterial infections too badly affect the ability to drink and eat. The hot temperature causes sweating, excessive urination due to unnoticed or improperly treated diabetes mellitus or diabetes insipidus (imbalance of fluids in the body). Conditions such as cystic fibrosis or celiac sprue do not allow food to be absorbed and can cause dehydration.

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Signs and symptoms of dehydration

Dry lips or sticky mouth, lack of tears or no tears while crying, sunken eyes, soft spots on top of the head, less peeing or fewer wet diapers, crankiness, drowsiness or dizziness are the symptoms causing dehydration within children.

How dehydration can be treated

The level of treatment for dehydration depends on how severe the causes are. In case of mild dehydration extra doses of liquids or rehydration solution daily would also help to recover. Children can keep to their regular diet, unless a doctor recommends any changes, while children with serious causes of dehydration may need proper treatment under the doctor’s consultation. Avoid giving sports drinks, soda, or full-strength juice.

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When should you call the doctor?

·         Lack of liquid intake for a few hours.

·         Infant or under one-year-old consuming only oral rehydration solution and no breastmilk for around 24 hours.

·         Vomiting frequently within 24 hours.

·         Vomit that appears as bright green, red, or brown.

·         Lack of eating food for consecutive 3-4 days.

·         Dry mouth, lips, peeing less often, fewer tears or sunken soft spots.

·         No changes or recovery after treatment at home.

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How to prevent dehydration

Giving extra fluids or oral rehydration is a solution, especially when your child is vomiting. You need to see whether your child is drinking often during hot weather. The ones who are indulged more in sports or any other physical activity should regularly drink extra fluid beforehand, with regular drink breaks during their activity.

(The writer is Consultant Neonatologist & Paediatrician, Motherhood Hospital Kharadi, Pune)

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