Child Dehydration and Heat Exhaustion

Living in the hot South Florida climate, it is especially important to protect your child against dehydration and heat illness. Outdoor sports on hot days or long days of playing in the sun can lead to dehydration. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures, direct sun, and high humidity places your child at higher risk of dehydration and heat-related illness.

Common early symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Thirst
  • Lack of energy
  • Felling overheated
  • Dry lips & tongue

Untreated dehydration can lead to more severe types of heat illness:

  • Heat cramps: painful cramps of the abdominal muscles, arms or legs
  • Heat exhaustion: dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, weakness, muscle pain and sometimes unconsciousness
  • Heat stroke: a temperature of 104 degrees or higher and severe symptoms, including nausea and vomiting, seizures, disorientation or delirium, lack of sweating, shortness of breath, unconsciousness, and coma

Treatment

Both heat exhaustion and heat stroke require immediate care. Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Any child with heat stroke should be rushed to the nearest hospital.

Prevention

Make sure your child drinks cool water and sports drinks early and often. If your child is playing sports, send them to practice or their game fully hydrated. Make sure they take regular breaks to drink fluids, even if they are not thirsty.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 5 ounces of cold tap water or sports drinks for a child weighing 88 pounds, and nine ounces for a teen weighing 132 pounds. One ounce is about two kid-size gulps.