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Dehydration In Children, Ambulatory Care


is a condition that develops when your child's body does not have enough fluids. Your child may become dehydrated if he does not drink enough water or loses too much fluid. Fluid loss may also cause loss of electrolytes (minerals), such as sodium.

Common symptoms include the following:

Your child's dehydration may be mild to severe. Mild dehydration may cause few or no signs. Severe dehydration may make your child very ill. He may have more than one of the following:

  • Dry mouth, and may not want to drink any liquids
  • Tired, restless, or fussy
  • Very sleepy or will not wake up
  • Sunken eyes, or crying without tears
  • Urinating little or not at all, or dark yellow urine
  • Cold, pale feet and hands

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • A seizure
  • Blood in his vomit or bowel movement
  • Yellow or green vomit
  • Confusion, not answering questions, or you cannot wake him
  • Refusal to drink or breastfeed
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Crying without tears
  • Cold hands or feet, or his face looks pale

Treatment for dehydration

may include any of the following:

  • Give your child liquids as directed. Ask how much liquid your child should drink each day and which liquids are best for him. He needs more liquids than usual during sports or exercise, and on warm days. You may need to give your child an oral rehydration solution (ORS). An ORS contains the right amounts of salt, sugar, and minerals in water. A sports drink is not the same as an ORS. Do not give your child a sports drink without asking his healthcare provider.
  • Give your child bland foods such as bananas, rice, apples, or toast. Do not give him dairy products or spicy foods until he feels better. Continue to breastfeed your baby or offer him formula. Do not give him soft drinks or fruit juices. These drinks can make his condition worse.
  • Keep track of how often your child urinates. Give him more liquids if he urinates less than usual or his urine is darker. Babies should have 4 to 6 wet diapers each day.
  • Keep your child cool. Limit the time your child spends outdoors during the hottest part of the day. Dress him in lightweight clothes.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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