If your child is irritable, has dry lips, rarely urinates (can go 12 hours without peeing), has dark coloured urine, sunken eyes, and no tears when crying, he or she could be dehydrated.
We are used to the test taken by the nurse, of pinching the skin to see how quick it gets back to normal, however some symptoms of dehydration are those we take for granted.
Dehydration could be a cause of various conditions. Diarrhoea, vomiting and high fever for a long period of time are common medical conditions. A lot of children are prone to diarrhoea; a condition where a person passes frequents watery stools. This would be a result of some infection or due to consumption of spoilt food. Passing too much watery stools can leave your child dehydrated and could be fatal.
An activity that leads to loss of water in children is playing (being) in the sun for long durations without drinking water. Sometimes long hours of swimming can lead to dehydration too as children do not realise that they haven’t drank enough water while swimming. Train your child to take intermittent water breaks between the running games, just for rehydrating.
When our children get thirsty, especially when swimming, they tend to drink carbonated drinks to quench the thirst. Consuming too many diuretics like caffeine and carbonated drinks after playing will increase your child’s dehydration. Prevention
More than 70% of your bodies is composed of water: dehydration affects the functioning of the brain and organs. It reduces the brain fluid within the brain and the brain volume.
If your child is dehydrated, you must help them to replace the lost water and minerals in this way:
- Home-based liquids: – In case of an emergency where ORS is not available, one can prepare a solution at home with 1tbsp sugar + 1 pinch of salt and 200ml of water. Along with this coconut water, rice water and vegetable soup work well.
- Oral rehydration therapy: – When your child begins to diarrhoea and vomit, especially coupled with a high fever, consider giving them an oral rehydration solution (ORS). WHO and UNICEF has provided guidelines to prepare ORS solution, which is acceptable for all ages.
You may find ORS in powdered form in the chemist; follow the instructions written on the packet on how to dilute it in water. Provide your child with this solution after every motion he or she passes or let her sip on it every 30 minutes. Your aim is to replace all the fluid and minerals lost from your child’s body.
- Home-made rehydration drinks for active kids – If your child is involved in sports that makes him/her sweat a lot, you should give them homemade sports drinks like lemon water, honey water with a pinch of pink salt, orange juice etc. These drinks should be given to swimmers too. Try your best to prepare natural juices for them, like squeezing oranges into a jug of water and honey.
- Potassium-rich foods: – Foods like banana, cucumber, squash and watermelon help to replenish lost minerals.
Very many children die from dehydration every year. Providing nutritional therapy at the right time can prevent excess water loss and its adverse effects. Ensure that anyone you have hired to take care of your children understands the necessity of rehydration.