How to Spot and Treat Dehydration in Kids

By Natalie Ochoa

Seems like every year we get into the triple digits sooner and sooner. We’ve already experienced record heat this year, and with so little our kids can do outside of the house right now, they are left to literally play outside. If you are anything like me, you try to limit your kids time in the Arizona sun, for fear of dehydration and worse, heat stroke. But kids are kids, and it’s hard to keep them busy when there is so little that we can take them to do.

Since working for a nutritional supplement company, Jigsaw Health, I have learned over the years how to spot the warning signs of dehydration in kids. We often believe that keeping bottles of water nearby and encouraging them to drink often is enough. It is not. Kids run out of fuel fast — from the heat, from sports, being sick, and just from going at the pace that kids go. All this activity depletes the essential electrolytes on their little bodies. And when dehydration kicks in, it can wreak havoc on them quickly. Some of the obvious warning signs are:

  • Dry lips and mouth
  • Excessive sweat
  • Few or no tears when they cry
  • Urinating less or not at all

But there are some less obvious signs that you may think are related to something else. In fact, these warnings may be related to dehydration, and should be considered seriously:

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Cold skin
  • Dizziness
  • Sunken eyes

When dehydration sets in… do this, don’t do that 

The first thing to do when you spot signs of dehydration in your kids is to get them into a cooler, shaded spot. If you are out and about, get in the car and turn on the air. If you are at home in your yard, get them inside or in the pool if you have one. If your kids are like mine, they will not like stopping whatever it is they are doing. But their health is priority number one, and I will bring them inside kicking and screaming.

Next, start replenishing them. And here’s the trick — water might not be enough. That is where electrolytes come in. Electrolytes are tiny, charged particles that live within our bodily fluids. They literally send electrical impulses throughout our bodies to allow proper functioning of the heart, muscles, and nerves. The primary minerals that make up electrolytes are: magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium, and chloride.

Unfortunately, the water filtration process strips these vital minerals out of our water. Therefore, water is not always enough. If your child is showing signs of dehydration, giving them electrolytes can help reverse it fast.

Many of us grew up with our parents shoving sports drinks in our face every time we over-exerted or were sick. This is not always the answer. In fact, it usually isn’t. First, it only partially compensates for the problem, and these electrolyte drinks have something most parents don’t want in their kids: Sugar. (up to 72 grams to be precise.) Even drinks that are marketed as “electrolytes for kids” still have sugar they do not need and often lack the necessary amount of minerals that kids need to combat dehydration.

Days when your kids are outside a lot in the heat, or especially active, or sick, are the days more electrolytes are needed. Remember, it is always a good idea to talk to your pediatrician to know what is right for your kid.

One that note, do not be afraid to call your pediatrician if your child is showing signs of being sick. Digestive issues, vomiting, extreme fatigue, headache… these are all signs of extreme dehydration. Here in Arizona, heat stroke is very real and extremely dangerous. We want to do everything we can to avoid this, so don’t be afraid to take them to the doctor if you believe they are severely dehydrated.

We know kids are not great at noticing the warning signs that they are over-taxing their bodies and getting dehydrated. They will go, go, go until their body gives in. If you know what to look for, and what to do about it, you can stop dehydration before it becomes serious.

Have fun out there this summer, stay safe, stay healthy!

Natalie Ochoa is the Director of Operations at Jigsaw Health and the mom of two boys. She loves working at the fastest growing nutritional supplement company in Arizona. When she is not working, she loves cooking, travel, and spending quality time with family. 






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