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Dehydration in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What is dehydration?

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

What increases my child's risk of dehydration?

What are the signs and symptoms of dehydration?

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 or she may have more than one of the following:

How is dehydration in children diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will examine your child and check his or her breathing and heartbeat. He or she will look at your child's eyes, skin, mouth, and tongue. He or she will ask you how much liquid your child has been drinking, and how much he or she is urinating. Tell him or her if your child is vomiting or has diarrhea. Your child will have blood and urine tests. These may show your child's electrolyte levels and the cause of his or her dehydration, such as infection. They may also show if his or her kidneys are working correctly.

How is dehydration in children treated?

Babies should continue to breastfeed or drink formula. Your child should not be fed solid food until his or her dehydration has been treated. If your child has diarrhea or is vomiting, he or she will be given the food he or she usually eats as soon as possible. Treatment may include any of the following:

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

How can I help prevent dehydration in my child?

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

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 healthcare providers 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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