First Aid: Dehydration
Dehydration can happen if kids aren't drinking enough liquids. They also can get dehydrated if they lose fluids through vomiting, diarrhea, or both.
Signs and Symptoms
Mild to moderate:
- a dry tongue
- few or no tears when crying
- rapid heart rate
- fussiness in an infant
- no wet diapers for 6 hours in an infant
- no urination (peeing) for 8 hours in children
- very dry mouth (looks "sticky" inside)
- dry or wrinkly skin (especially on the belly and upper arms and legs)
- inactivity or decreased alertness and excessive sleepiness
- sunken eyes
- sunken soft spot on top of an infant's head
- no peeing for 8 or more hours in an infant
- no peeing for 10 or more hours in a child
- deep, rapid breathing
- fast or weakened pulse
What to Do
Mild dehydration often can be treated at home. If your child has diarrhea but no vomiting, continue feeding a normal diet. If your child is vomiting, stop milk products and solid foods, and:
- Give infants an oral electrolyte solution (a solution that restores lost fluids and minerals), about 1 tablespoon every 15–20 minutes.
- Give children over 1 year old sips of clear fluids such as an oral electrolyte solution, ice chips, clear broth, or ice pops. Give 1 to 2 tablespoons every 15–20 minutes.
Get Emergency Medical Care if Your Child:
- shows any sign of severe dehydration
- can't keep clear liquids down
- isn't peeing
- Washing hands well and often can help prevent many of the illnesses that can lead to dehydration.
- Encourage taking in frequent, small amounts of liquids during illnesses to prevent dehydration.
- If vomiting happens, use only clear fluids to rehydrate.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2018 KidsHealth ® All rights reserved. Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com