Child Dehydration - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India
Health Education

Child Dehydration

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 4 Sep 2014 - 17:45.

Dehydration is a life threatening condition particularly when it affects babies. Needless to mention it requires careful observation, skillful handling and prompt action on the part of every mother facing this problem. What may look like a simple case may turn out to be potentially dangerous.

When your baby is dehydrated, it means that she is losing too much fluid or not ingesting enough fluids because of fever, overheating, vomiting or diarrhea. Babies are particularly at great risk for dehydration and may lead to immediate hospitalization if the problem is not addressed quickly.

The rule of thumb is to call a doctor immediately if you notice that your baby:

  • Has failed to wet any diaper for six hours or has wet
  • Less than eight diapers in a 24 hour period.
  • Is passing persistent dark yellow urine
  • Displays less energy or is less active than usual
  • Has a sunken fontanel (on the top of the head though difficult to identify)
  • Has dry, sticky mouth and lips
  • Doesn’t shed any tears while crying

If these signs and symptoms are coupled with continuous loss of fluids the child could become seriously dehydrated and need intravenous fluids. If you notice any of the following symptom triad rush to a nearby emergency room in a hospital:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Cold and splotchy hands and feet
  • Lethargy and absence of any activity

Common causes for dehydration:

It is important to know the common causes for dehydration to set in which are:

Fever: Fever is among the most frequent causes of dehydration in young babies. When your baby has fever she sweats and water evaporates from her skin while the body tries to cool down. The child may have faster breathing losing more fluid by exhaling. It is estimated that on an average a child loses about 12% of her body fluids for every degree of rise in temperature beyond 100 F. Offer plenty of liquids such as breast milk or formula milk. If the child refuses feeds you should try some methods by which the child gets proper fluid intake like administering pediatric paracetamol drops to control fever under advice from the doctor.

Overheating: Too much of an activity on a hot day or just sitting in a stuffy room can trigger sweating leading to dehydration. Try to keep the room and surroundings as cool as possible and administer plenty of fluids like breast milk or formula milk.

Diarrhea: Infants with diarrhea need special care because there is always the danger that the child may become severely dehydrated with in less than 24 hours. Call the doctor immediately if you notice any of the symptoms and signs listed above. It is essential to rule out the possibility of acute gastroenteritis. Try to administer as much of electrolyte solutions like Pedilite, electoral etc before the doctor arrives.

Vomiting: Viral and intestinal infections can lead to profuse vomiting leading to dehydration. If the child has not stopped vomiting beyond 3 hours call the doctor at once. Once the vomiting has stopped for 2 to 3 hours start feeding fluids like pedilite every half an hour to one hour. If the child is able to keep the intake for more than 5 hours tries giving her breast milk or formula milk. Once the vomiting has stopped for more than 12 hours you can switch over to normal feeds.

Handling dehydration: One golden rule to remember is to first maintain proper hydration and then tackle the cause for dehydration. So long as you are able to maintain adequate hydration you are buying time to investigate and tackle the cause. Remember that what looks like a playful child might end up in serious dehydration in hours and what looks like a moribund case might come out successfully. The key to save precious life of an infant is to maintain proper hydration and take immediate action.

*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.