Why is dehydration in children different than in adults?
Younger children and toddlers are at a higher risk of dehydration given that they can lose a significant amount of fluid at a much more rapid rate than adults.
As patients with a fever can often have a reduced interest in fluid consumption, small volumes of an oral rehydration solution (Hydralyte) may encourage drinking and help to address mild dehydration.
Some other reasons why children tend to dehydrate faster than adults include, but are not limited to:
- Children have more water in the body (by proportion) than adults (70% in infants compared with 60% in adults).
- They have a faster metabolism and need more water for the body to maintain proper cell functions.
- They have a greater skin surface area to body weight ratio, affecting the sweat loss rate.
- Increased activity mixed with low water intake can leave your child dehydrated faster.
- Vomiting and diarrhea are much more common in children than adults.
What Are the Symptoms of Dehydration in Children?
Some dehydration signs to look out for include:
- Dry lips, mouth, and tongue as well as loss of skin elasticity
- Lethargy or showing very little energy
- Decrease in urine output – darker urine as opposed to almost clear liquid
- Appearance of sunken eyes and lack of tears when crying
- Signs of irritation higher than usual, dizziness, and headaches
- Increased thirst
Extreme Dehydration Symptoms: Please be very cautious if your child presents the following signs in addition to those mentioned above.
- Extreme lethargy and fatigue
- White coated tongue
- High fever
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Very dark urine
- If concerning a baby, please be aware of sunken-in soft spots on baby’s head
- In addition to the symptoms detailed above, children may exhibit abnormal breathing and/or increased capillary refill.
- Warning: Dehydration can quickly become very serious in children and pediatrics. Please seek further medical advice if you are concerned about your infant or young child.
Did you know?
Children may exhibit increased capillary refill times. To check this, press the skin firmly. If it takes more than 2 seconds for the white mark to disappear, the child may be dehydrated.
Prevention: Managing Dehydration
The following are some suggestions on how to manage your child’s dehydration. However, pediatric dehydration is something to be very careful with and it is always best to consult with a doctor if your child is showing any of the signs or symptoms mentioned above.
For Mild to Moderate Dehydration:
It is recommended at this stage to offer your child an oral rehydration solution (ORS), designed to replenish lost fluids. Hydralyte is scientifically formulated to contain the correct balance of glucose and electrolytes for rapid rehydration. The formulation is based on the World Health Organization criteria for effective rehydration. Water or sugary drinks are not as effective as Hydralyte, as they do not restore lost electrolytes (which retain the fluid).
Hydralyte may or may not be suitable for use in pediatrics. Always consult your physician before using any type of oral rehydration therapy to ensure that it is age-appropriate.
Click below for dosage instructions:
For Moderate to Severe Dehydration:
If your child presents signs of severe dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea, take your child to the doctor for immediate care as soon as possible. Once your child has been evaluated by your physician, be sure to follow up on ways to prevent future dehydration.
How to Prevent Dehydration in Children?
Especially in summer or hot climates, children are more likely to be exposed to hot temperatures, sun, and humid weather. Because children tend to dehydrate faster, it is important to make sure your child is receiving enough fluids. Remember that both heat and sun exposure can often result in mild to moderate dehydration if not properly managed.
If your child seems to present any signs of dehydration after a long day outside, make sure to increase fluid intake and allow plenty of time for rest and recovery. Adding an oral rehydration solution like Hydralyte, can help expedite the fluid replenishment process.
Additional Tips on Preventing Dehydration:
- Make sure your child is drinking enough water throughout the day
- Increase fluid intake on those long days spent playing in the park
- Avoid dairy and any foods that may be harder to digest
- ORS’s are also a great way to take precautionary measures
Hydralyte’s Oral Fluid Chart
When managing dehydration in infants and young children, use a fluid intake chart to measure your child’s fluid intake and losses. You can bring this chart to your physician so they can assess the degree of dehydration (mild, moderate or severe) in your infant or young child, thus being able to provide the best rehydration solution.