Water is one of the most necessary chemical compounds for the body. It is vital that the body is hydrated, especially in children, whose strategies to maintain the correct body temperature are not as efficient as those of adults. What symptoms alert us to dehydration in children? Can it be prevented? What to do and what not to do if the child is dehydrated?
Maintaining proper hydration can be understood in two ways, both very important for the body. The first consists of supplying the body with water (hydrating), while the second consists of preventing the body from losing the water it already has (preventing dehydration). For it:
- Try that the body temperature does not rise above 36.5 degrees habitual of the body choosing places in the shade to rest and recover. When this temperature is exceeded, the body, to try to lower it, sweats more, losing water.
- Try not to make the body sweat more than necessary, choosing, at times when the sun is hottest, activities that are relaxed and require little movement. Performing physical exercise in full sun adds the heat of the sun with the increase in temperature and the energy expenditure that physical exercise entails, losing water and making the heart work hard.
- Refresh the body so that the temperature does not rise, either in the pool or by wetting critical parts with a damp washcloth.
- Choosing materials and clothes that allow air circulation. It is very important that the tissues do not increase the body temperature but are fresh.
- Covering the head with a cap, since in addition to being the part of the body through which more heat is lost, it is also one of those that heat up more easily. When the head heats up, the temperature of the whole body begins to rise and sweating increases, losing water.
On the other hand, to recover that lost water and maintain the correct fluid balance, it is important to:
- Offer liquids constantly and at regular intervals, for example, 20-30 minutes. It is important that these fluids are not concentrated (excessively rich in sugars or minerals), that is, the most suitable as we well know is water, but we can resort to others that are more attractive.
- Do not offer very cold water. It should be remembered that when it comes to recovering fluids, in reality the temperature of the water does not matter, but the temperature shock should be avoided, fresh but not frozen water is the best option.
- Alternate drinking water with water from foods such as fruit. Some of the fruits of the summer season are very rich in water, such as watermelon or melon, and, fresh, they are ideal for the child to add water almost without knowing it.
- Although they are not ideal, popsicles (ice creams made with water and fruit juices) are another good option to hydrate Our little ones will find it very attractive.
However, if dehydration is already evident and the first symptoms are observed (sticky mouth, little urine and of intense color, dry and cold skin, headache, muscle cramps, dizziness…) the fluid intake is called rehydration. For proper rehydration we must:
- Offer water or serum very frequently, but without forcing the amount. It is preferable for the child to take frequent sips than a large drink. Sometimes the very fast intake of water makes the body not able to accept or use it and vomit, losing even more water. By offering the child water, he will be able to decide what is the most appropriate, depending on what his body asks of him.
- Do not offer other types of drinks until the child is rehydratedas an unwanted electrolyte imbalance can occur. Water or serum, depending on the degree of dehydration, are our best assets.
We must remember that thirst is not a good indicator of the beginning of the dehydration process in the child. Unfortunately, by the time a child is thirsty, they may already be dehydrated. For this reason we must offer water constantly. In addition, it is important that we remind the child to continue drinking even after his thirst has been quenched.
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