As soon as summer kicks in, kids head outside to play, and that can mean dehydration if they don’t drink enough water while out in the heat. Most parents don’t realize that kids are much more susceptible to dehydration and heat illness than adults, and the effects are more serious. Part of the reason is that kids absorb more heat than adults, but sweat less.
They also have less fluid and can go from mild dehydration to severe dehydration more quickly than adults. This is why kids need to hydrate and have water to drink while outside playing.
Kids produce more metabolic heat during physical activity. A child can lose up to a quart of sweat during two hours of exercise. They will feel the effects of dehydration and other heat related problems more quickly than adults will.
Early signs of mild dehydration may include dryness of the mouth, thirst, warm skin, dizziness and leg cramps. If a child has a rapid pulse, a flushed face, sunken eyes or drowsiness, these are signs that serious dehydration is starting to occur and needs to be addressed quickly. The child should be placed in the shade and given cool water and a cool washcloth on the forehead and on the wrists. If the symptoms last for more than an hour the child should be taken to a medical facility for treatment.
Dehydration occurs when the body loses water content and essential body salts, such as potassium (essential for nerve and muscle function), calcium bicarbonate, and phosphate. Sodium and Chloride help the body to retain fluid. Sports drinks can restore body fluids, electrolytes, and salt balance.
Studies show that kids will only drink about 50% of the water they need unless it’s flavored. Then they will usually drink about 90%. Water is the most important nutrient for your body and parents and coaches need to make sure kids drink enough of it, even if it has to be flavored to get them to do it.
Dehydration can be prevented if kids do the following:
- Drink plenty of fluid while out playing in the sun
- Drink before you actually get thirsty
- Play during the cooler hours
- Take plenty of rest breaks
- Avoid soda and sugary drinks
- Stop playing if you have a headache, dizziness, or become disoriented
Dehydration places kids at risk for serious conditions, like heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be life threatening if left untreated. But dehydration is completely preventable as long as kids drink enough of the right kinds of fluids.
Guest Writer – Julie Austin
Julie Austin is an award-winning author, inventor, and multiple business owner. Her patented product, swiggies, wrist water bottles, have been a NASDAQ product of the year semi finalist and are currently sold in 24 countries. She’s appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX News, along with dozens of TV shows, magazines and radio shows around the world. She’s a “go-to” media expert in the fields of innovation & creativity, and is featured in the books “Patently Female” and “Girls Think of Everything”.