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Symptoms to look out for

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Knowing the signs and symptoms of dehydration is essential in identifying them sooner rather than later. Dehydration in babies and toddlers can have serious consequences if left untreated.

In babies2:

  • Irritability
  • Less frequent urination
  • Sunken fontanelle
  • Crying without tears
  • Skin that doesn’t flatten when pinched and released

In adults and children1:

  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Energy loss
  • A rapid heartbeat
  • Irritability
  • Inability to urinate
  • Cool hands and feet

In Athletes3:

  • Thirst
  • Irritability
  • General discomfort followed by headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Cramps
  • Chills
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Head or neck heat sensations
  • Decreased performance

Dehydration in Babies and Toddlers

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Diarrhoea is a leading cause of child mortality in the world, responsible for killing around 760 000 children every year4. Most children who die from diarrhoea actually die from severe dehydration and fluid loss4, as babies’ smaller bodies have smaller fluid reserves and a high metabolic rate, which makes it easier for them to lose the water and electrolytes needed for their bodies to function. If fluids are not replaced, the outcome can be critical within a few days so it is best to take action sooner rather than later.

  • Even while a baby’s diarrhoea or vomiting persists, keep offering him/her small amounts of water or REHIDRAT® at regular intervals as some will be retained by his/her body.
  • Because sick babies often refuse to drink anything when they are ill, some moms put the solution into a syringe and squirt a small amount gently into the side of the baby’s mouth. Care should be taken not to squirt the liquid into the back of the throat or squirt too much, too quickly as this may cause a baby to gag or choke.

References:


1. Health Navigator New Zealand. 2014. Dehydration. Available at: http://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/health-a-z/d/dehydration/ (link is external) (Accessed: 3 March 2017), NHS Inform. 2013. Dehydration. Available at http://www.nhsinform.com/health-library/articles/d/dehydration/prevention (link is external). (Accessed: 3 March 2017)

2. Health Navigator New Zealand (2017). Dehydration. Available at: http://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/health-a-z/d/dehydration/#Clinicians (link is external) (Accessed: 6 March 2017)

3. Douglas J Casa. Et al. 2000. National Athletic Trainers' Association Position Statement: Fluid Replacement for Athletes. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1323420/ (link is external). (Accessed 6 March 2017)

4. a. b. Diarrhoeal disease. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs330/en/ (link is external). Accessed 04 October 2016