I know it doesn’t seem at all long ago that we were all praying for winter to be over and the sun to once again smile on us. And it has! Many nice days have graced the Ohio Valley with low humidity and pleasant comfortable afternoons and evenings.
Alas – that may take a turn this week with Superheat and his stick-like-glue buddy Hugh Midity!
Yes folks – so sorry to break the news, but you may want to pack up and take a trip to the beach as temps in the upper 80s and low 90s are forecasted with a chance of thunderstorms – so take an umbrella as well.
This is a good time to think about the hazards of summer heat, especially as it pertains to children and dehydration. Remember – the majority of the body is made up of water – up to 75 percent! Dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than the amount being taken in.
By the time a child feels thirsty, they have already lost 3 percent of body fluids.
Don’t wait until your child expresses they are thirsty. Watch and give fluids every 20 minutes or so on these hot, humid days, and even more often if they are engaging in high activity. Set a timer if need be. Thirst can be quenched, but this may occur before the necessary body fluids have been replaced. This is why kids should start drinking before thirst develops and consume additional fluids even after thirst is quenched.
Along with heavy exercise and sweating, kids can also lose large amounts of water and salts through illnesses that include fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. In fact, globally, more than four million children die each year because of dehydration from diarrhea. We know poor quality water is the main source for this in other countries, but many hundreds of these children are right here in the Untied States.
Infants and very young children are especially at risk since they cannot verbalize their needs. They are dependent upon others to provide them with water and nutrition. Attentiveness to their behavior during the heat of summer can never be taken lightly. Stay alert and make sure you as a parent hire a very knowledgable sitter if you are not going to be the one with them during such times.
Signs of Dehydration
Be concerned if your child has an excessive loss of fluid by vomiting or diarrhea, or if the child refuses to eat or drink. Illness is always your cue to be alert to dehydration warnings.
In otherwise healthy children, watch for some of these warning signs. This list is not exhaustive! You must stay attentive and note any behavior changes that may indicate fluid loss.
Mild to moderate symptoms:
- sunken eyes
- decreased frequency of urination or dry diapers (3 hours with no wetting)
- sunken soft spot on the front of the head in babies (called the fontanel)
- no tears when the child cries
- dry or sticky mouth ( mucous membranes in the lining of the mouth or tongue)
- lethargy (less than normal activity)
- cessation of sweating
- muscle cramps
- nausea and vomiting
- irritability (more crying, fussiness with inconsolability)
Severe symptoms include:
- increased heart rate
- weak pulses
- rapid shallow breathing
- cool, mottled skin
- no urine output (dry diapers)
- too weak to suckle or drink fluids
- dizzy or lightheaded
- loss of muscle tone with the child appearing “floppy”
Immediate medical attention is required in severe cases. Intravenous fluids will need to be administered.
Water, water, water is the answer!
Not juice, milk (unless breastfed babies), sodas (caffeine dehydrates), or iced teas. Pure filtered water has always been and will remain the best, healthiest, and most important liquid you can ever provide for your body!
Common sense combined with a little bit of education will assure everyone a safe fun summer.