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Dehydration and Kids: What Every Parent Should Know

Of all patient groups, kids are the most susceptible to dehydration.  In fact, in the U.S., treatment for dehydration requires an estimated 3 million doctor visits each year and more than 220,000 hospitalizations. Dehydration accounts for roughly 10 percent of all hospital visits by children.

But why is that? What makes dehydration such a menace to your children?

The short answer is that kids require more water. Their bodies are made of more water than adults, they use more of it, and they don’t conserve it as efficiently. Plus, their still-forming immune systems are at a greater risk for illnesses that cause vomiting and diarrhea, both of which hasten the loss of vital fluids and electrolytes.

Yet, for such a prevalent condition, many parents are still fuzzy on the details. They aren’t sure of the signs and symptoms, causes and available remedies for dehydration in children.

Common Causes of Dehydration in Kids

  • Gastrointestinal Illness – This is the No. 1 cause of dehydration in children. GI ailments like the stomach flu cause vomiting and diarrhea which speed up the loss of fluids and electrolytes.
  • Fever – When children are running a fever, water evaporates through the skin to cool itself. This natural process, which also happens when the skin is sunburned, hastens fluid loss and increases the chances of dehydration.
  • Sweating, Exercise – Exercise-induced dehydration is a problem for children year-round. Active children lose electrolytes and fluids through sweat, so it’s important that they replace both while they’re active.

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration in Children

Recognizing the early warning signs of dehydration in your child can prevent trips to the doctor. So if your child is battling stomach flu, a fever, or has been outside in the sun all day, these are a few common symptoms of dehydration to watch for:

  • Lethargy, drowsiness
  • Sunken eyes
  • Slower skin elasticity
  • Problems producing tears
  • Decreased urine production

Cures, Treatments for Dehydration

According to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of child dehydration cases in the U.S. can be treated with a simple formula called oral rehydration solution (ORS). Both the WHO and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend an ORS – like Drip Drop – to treat dehydration.

And the reason for this is simple: ORS are mixed with water and they contain a much-needed dose of electrolytes. These electrolytes help patients absorb water and rehydrate faster. So the fastest cure for dehydration is providing fluid – plus electrolytes – to your child.

Image via flickr.

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