Identifying signs of dehydration

BY PENDA HONEYGHAN

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

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CHILDREN are hard-wired to have a tunnel view idea of what summer represents — an opportunity to explore the outdoors and enjoy every minute of the clear blue skies unbothered by the many responsibilities that come with school. And while many parents make sure that their children are wearing cool clothes, hats and sunscreen, they often forget to ensure one important thing — making sure that their children are adequately hydrated throughout the day.

Paediatrician Dr Anona Griffith said that dehydration, which is described as a condition that occurs when a person loses more fluids than he or she consumes, making the body unable to carry out its normal functions, may vary from mild to severe.

It's important for parents to observe their children, as only then will they be able to take note of signs that the child needs to be rehydrated before the situation becomes serious.

Below Dr Griffith shares signs your child may be dehydrated:

Extreme thirst

If your child complains of extreme thirst, he or she is likely to already be dehydrated, especially if you know he/she was not having frequent sips of water.

Sweating more than usual

Most of the water which is lost during the summer is lost by way of sweat as our body temperature increases. While sweat usually acts as a natural coolant, it is usually barely noticeable during the summer and too much water is lost through the skin for it to be beneficial.

Decreased saliva or dry mouth

The child may complain of having a dry mouth and struggling with very little saliva, and the lips may also look dry and sometimes crispy or cracked.

Decreased urine with darker coloured urine

You may notice that the child is taking little or no bathroom breaks and, in the case of a younger child, there are fewer wet diapers. You may also notice that there is a change in the urine colour from pale yellow to a much darker colour whenever your child urinates.

Decreased or absent tears

Either few or no tears may surface when your child cries because the body does not have water to produce tears.

Sunken eyes/moles (soft spots)

When the body is dehydrated, it results in a temporary loss of volume in the undereye area.

Decreased activity

The child may become withdrawn from activities because he/she lacks the energy because the body is unable to function normally.

Dr Griffith warns that these are serious warning signs or red flags that must be taken seriously and medical attention sought.

“If the infant is breastfeeding, this should be continued and encouraged. However, oral electrolyte solutions such as Pedialyte can also be used to rehydrate. This will reduce the possibility of serious complications such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” Dr Griffith advised.

To prevent or reduce the possibility of dehydration, Dr Griffith suggests the following:

• Encouraging a culture of rehydration — get a pretty sippy cup or bottle and encourage the child to sip frequently.

•Ensure that your child takes water breaks at intervals.

•Encourage your child to go indoors for shade and to cool down.

•Clothes worn in the summer should be loose and preferably made of cotton.

• Give your children fruit juices and frozen fruits instead of fizzy drinks.

•Encourage children to play in the evening when it is cooler.

•Give them fruits with a high water volume such as watermelon, strawberries and cantaloupe.

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