How to Keep Children Hydrated in Summer
Don't let dehydration put a damper on your summer
West Bay Medicare's Consultant Paediatrician Dr Ghassan ZeinAddeen, stresses to parents the im-portance of preventing their children from becoming dehydrated this summer. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than it takes in, which causes the salt and water balance to shift. This imbalance of electrolytes can result in serious complications if the symptoms of dehydration are not spotted soon enough.
Did you know? Dehydration often sneaks up on people who are playing in or near water. “There’s water all around, so you forget to drink,” says Dr Ghassan adding that even though you don’t feel it, you are losing fluid via sweat even when you’re swimming.
Spotting the Signs of DehydrationYoung children and babies are more susceptible to dehydration than adults, particularly in the high temperatures of the Doha summers. This is because the percentage of fluid and water needs is more important in their smaller bodies compared with older children and adults. Parents need to be aware of the symptoms of dehydration in their children, as the sooner it is recognized the easier it is to treat. The key signs of dehydration to look out for are:
• Lethargy, lack of energy, and irritability.
• Dry mouth and dry and/or cracked lips.
• Decreased urination and/or dark coloured urine.
• Sunken eyes, or in babies a sunken fontanelle (soft spot) on the head.
• Dry skin or skin that feels cold to the touch.
• No tears when crying.
Dr Ghassan states that it is important to take action as soon as a parent recognizes one or more of these symptoms in their child. Get your child out of the sun and encourage them to drink an oral re-hydration solution, which has the right balance of water, salts, and sugars. This means that electro-lytes and fluids are absorbed in the most efficient way. If your child refuses the oral rehydration so-lutions, give them fluid that they like, but avoid milk and juice if they are experiencing diarrhoea or vomiting. Administer the fluids little and often, and not all at once.
Preventing Dehydration in ChildrenChildren are easily distracted, particularly when they are taking part in fun summer activities. They may forget to take a drink regularly, and younger children may not be able to sufficiently communi-cate when they feel thirsty. Dr Ghassan suggests that parents remind their children to drink several times an hour, especially on hot days. Children usually require 5 cups of water a day, but this in-creases on warmer days and with increased activity, so on any day trips, be sure to pack according-ly. Dr Ghassan also recommends that parents pack an emergency supply of water in the car or bags to prepare for any eventuality.
The recommended daily fluid intakes for children are as follows:
“We would never recommend pop, sports drinks or vitamin waters, even though they can be mar-keted to kids,” states experienced Paediatrician, Dr Ghassan. He suggests that water, milk, and 100% fruit and vegetable juices, are the best drinks to keep children hydrated, as they are free of unhealthy sugars and additives.
When to Contact a DoctorWhilst mild dehydration can be treated at home if you suspect that your child has moderate or se-vere hydration is it important that you contact a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Dr Ghassan and the rest of the medical team here at West Bay Medicare are happy to hear any of your concerns about dehydration or have any questions you may have.
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