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What are Common Symptoms of Dehydration in Children?

Meshell Powell
Meshell Powell

There are several different potential symptoms involving dehydration in children, and it is important to note that any combination of these symptoms may be present, as symptoms vary from child to child. Immediate medical attention is suggested if the child has been suffering from vomiting or diarrhea and then refuses to eat or drink anything. A decrease in urination or the number of wet diapers could also possibly indicate dehydration in children.

Dehydration is a medical term for the body not receiving or maintaining the proper amount of fluid to sustain optimal health. This can occur at any age, but dehydration in children can be particularly challenging, partly due to the inability of young children to communicate effectively concerning health issues. Dehydration can occur due to issues such as severe vomiting or diarrhea, and treatment relies on increasing fluid intake.

Water, which can help prevent and treat dehydration.
Water, which can help prevent and treat dehydration.

Eyes that look sunken in can be a potential symptom of dehydration in children. The soft spot found in the front of the head in babies may also appear to be sunken in. The child may also become lethargic or seem weak and disinterested in normal activities. These symptoms should be seen as possible signs of dehydration in children. Some children may just seem more irritable or fussy than normal. If this symptom accompanies any of the above symptoms, dehydration should be considered.

Dehydration in children can be a serious medical issue. Therefore, there are certain symptoms which warrant an immediate trip to the doctor. Some of these symptoms include a lack of tears when crying, abdominal pain, or blood in the stool. If vomiting has occurred for more than 24 hours or if the vomit appears green, a doctor should be consulted right away.

Treatment for dehydration in children focuses on replacing lost fluids. Fluid replacement products designed for children are available in many grocery stores and drug stores. If the child is older than two years of age, flat soft drinks, water-based soups, or any other clear liquid may be given. The child should drink as much as possible, but it should be done slowly. For instance, it is often helpful to offer just a few sips of liquid every few minutes.

Once the vomiting or diarrhea stops and the child begins to tolerate liquids, a slow return to a normal diet can begin. The goal is to introduce bland foods in the beginning so that vomiting does not recur, thus leading to further dehydration. Foods such as rice, bananas, and toast are good foods to try. Once these are well tolerated, the child may return to a normal diet.

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    • Water, which can help prevent and treat dehydration.
      By: Aaron Amat
      Water, which can help prevent and treat dehydration.