Is my child dehydrated?
Dehydration occurs when an infant or child loses so much body fluid that it is not able to maintain ordinary functions. It may be caused by not drinking enough water because of vomiting, diarrhoea, or fever due to infection and may occur when an infant or child loses so much body fluid that it is not able to maintain ordinary function.
Dehydration may be caused by not drinking enough water because of vomiting, diarrhoea, or fever due to infection.
In conditions where the body needs more water like fever, or when there is loss of water from the body as in diarrhoea or vomiting, dehydration can result.
It can occur in any season including in winter. If your child is unable to eat or drink because of a severe sore throat, he may get dehydrated. The symptoms of lethargy and fever, which we tend to associate with the disease process of acute pharyngitis or tonsillitis, may actually be the cause and effect of dehydration. Not giving fluids to younger infants, who are unable to ask for a drink when thirsty, can dehydrate them, especially in hot weather.
If a child has severe dehydration, he or she may not be able to replace body fluid by oral intake. In these cases hospitalisation may be required.
Excessive sweating in smaller babies secondary to overwrapping in the winter months can lead to dehydration.
Sometimes the fever doesn't respond to paracetamol, but if combined with hydration gives miraculous results.
How do I know my child has dehydration? Lethargy (less active, less playful, sleeping more). The soft spot on your baby's head seems sunken.
Dry tongue and dry lips, with less than six wet diapers in babies' per day.
No wet diaper in eight hours in toddlers.
Dry wrinkled skin, fever with refusal of oral feeds. Faster breathing and cold fingers and toes with patchy colouring of the skin are signs of severe dehydration.
How can I help my child at home? Follow the paediatrician's instructions.
Continue to breast feed infants.
Avoid over-the-counter medications especially for children below 2 years of age.
Slowly try to increase their daily water and food intake. Allow your child to rest.
Control fever by use of paracetamol as directed by your paediatrician.
Electrolyte solutions help, if used as directed by your paediatrician.
Return to your doctor if the signs of dehydration appear to be increasing.
When should you return to your child's paediatrician? If your child is unable to eat or drink his usual requirement.
If the fever refuses to go away and the child continues to be lethargic.
The diarrhoea or vomiting increases.
Less than six wet diaper for infants and no wet diaper for eight hours in toddlers.
What can the paediatrician do to help your child? In case of severe or persisting dehydration, your child will need to stay in a hospital for intravenous fluid therapy.
The fever will be controlled by use of medications round the clock. Gradual introduction to oral feeds under supervision, till your child can feed normally.
The root cause of the illness will also be addressed.
Send in your queries to Dr Sucharita Ghosh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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