Dehydration is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in infants and young children worldwide. Each year, approximately 760,000 children have diarrheal disease worldwide. Most cases of dehydration in children are the consequence of acute gastroenteritis. Dehydration is seen to occur mostly in infants and younger children than older children and adults. This could be as a result of the smaller bodies and smaller reserves of water that children have as compared to adults. According to W.H.O, dehydration is a condition that results from excessive loss of body water. It is a condition whereby fluid loss is more than fluid intake. Dehydration occurs in children as a result of fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, decreased intake of fluids and increased sweating in a hot environment. World Health Organisation says the most common causes of dehydration in children are vomiting and diarrhoea. Here are common signs that show that a child is dehydrated
- Dry or sticky mouth
- Reduced intake of fluids
- Few or no tears when crying
- Dark coloured urine
- Sunken eyes
- Depressed fontanelles
- Peeing less or fewer wet diapers than usual
- Dry, cool skin
- Drowsiness or dizziness
- Increased heart and respiratory rate
Remedies for Dehydration in Children
The only remedy for the treatment of dehydration in children is to replace lost fluids. Dehydration can range from mild to severe states. You can treat mild cases at home while you should refer severe cases, where vomiting or diarrhoea persists after rehydration with oral fluids, to the doctor for prompt attention.
- Ensure you give water in some and frequent sips until vomiting stops
- Give extra fluids in frequent small sips even if the child is vomiting.
- Choose clear soup and clear soda if possible.
- Give popsicles, ice chips, and cereal mixed with milk for added water or fluid.
- Fruits with water content like watermelon, pineapple can help restore fluid lost in the body
- If the child is still breastfeeding continue to nurse even during rehydration unless vomiting repeatedly. Give the ORS in between feedings. Stop giving formula to a formula-fed baby during rehydration, and restart as soon as your baby can keep fluids down give breast milk often.
- If the child is on solid meals like mashed beans, potatoes and cereal ensure you give enough water after meals
- Do not give dehydrated child water, soda, ginger ale, tea or fruit juice. These don’t have the right mix of sugar and salts and can make diarrhoea worse.
- Oral rehydration solution is best for infants and children. Start it by giving 2or more teaspoons of the solution. This solution can be homemade and available in packets which are available in any pharmacy or drug store without a prescription. You can prepare it locally through this process
- Take 4 cups or 1 litre of clean water or a bottle of clean water
- Mix 1 teaspoon of table salt
- Mix 8 teaspoons of sugar
- Stir thoroughly and drink
- Give this solution in small, frequent sips until the child recovers completely
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In this case, immediate hospitalization is required. Patients who are severely dehydrated can have altered mental status, lethargy, tachycardia, hypotension, signs of poor perfusion, weak thread pulses, and delayed capillary refill. Replace fluid by administering intravenous fluids to restore water and electrolyte starting with 20 ml/kg boluses of normal saline and boluses of glucose if hypoglycaemia is discovered. You may need multiple boluses for children in hypovolemic shock.