With no exceptions, adults and kids lose water from their body constantly. The water evaporates from the skin, is lost whenever you cry, urinate or sweat. So lost water is replaced by drinking enough water and by eating water-rich food, vegetables and fruits. But when the body doesn’t get sufficient water as a replacement or is suffering from a condition such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever or is exposed to excessively hot weather and humidity, you might get dehydrated.
And in case of toddlers, dehydration might affect them to a greater extent and cause complications in their health. To avoid such an impact, here is what you need to know about dehydration and its signs and symptoms in your toddler.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration is the condition in which the scarcity of water is created in the body because your body loses water more than it receives. When the balance between losing and receiving is imbalanced, it disrupts the normal metabolic processes. Dehydration could be mild, moderate, severe or life-threatening. Infants, toddlers and children are more susceptible to this condition as their body hold lesser reserves of fluid. Dehydration could happen over a period of time or could happen instantly. In any case, it is always best to keep a close watch on your toddler.
Signs and symptoms of dehydration:
Mild and moderate dehydration:
1. Plays less than usual: Human body is made of 60% of water. When the body gets dehydrated, it is normal to feel tired and be less involved in the activities. He might not even be able to concentrate on any activity and when coaxed, he could become fussy. If your toddler is displaying these symptoms, pay close attention. He might be dehydrated.
2. Parched, dry mouth: Dry mouth is one of the earliest signs of dehydration in the toddler. When the water in your child’s body is less than required, the saliva glands don’t produce enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. This causes lesser salivation, dry mouth and the mouth appears sticky with dry lips.
3. Urinates less frequently: Infants need to have at least 6 wet diapers per day and when there are fewer than that, it is a sign of dehydration. For toddlers, if they go without urinating for a longer period of time than usual, they are dehydrated.
4. Fewer tears: The lack of water in the body leads to lack of tear production in eyes. This could result in dry eyes, fewer tears than usual while crying and strained eyes.
5. Sunken soft spots: A baby is born with several soft spots or fontanels which provides flexibility to the skull to pass through the birth canal. The fontanels take around 18 months to totally disappear. Fontanels are relatively firm. If your baby or toddler is dehydrated, these soft spots will be noticeably sunken.
6. Decreased bowel movement: If your toddler is dehydrated due to lack of fluid intake, there will be decreased, infrequent bowel movement and harder stools. However, if the cause of dehydration is diarrhea, stools will be loose.
7. Dry, chapped skin: For skin to look healthy, it needs to be well-hydrated and moisturized. If the body doesn’t have sufficient water, the skin becomes drier than normal and this causes cracking and chapping.
1. Sunken eye sockets: The volume of eyelids are made up of water, fat and collagen. When your child is dehydrated, his eyelids may thin and lose elasticity. As a result, the eye sockets appears sunken due to dehydration.
2. Drowsiness: Since dehydration could affect the metabolic processes in human body, dehydration over a period of time, or severe dehydration could make your child feel lethargic, tired and drowsy all the time.
3. Disorientation: The lack of water in the body could affect the concentration level of your child. When your child is severely dehydrated, he might be disoriented and doesn’t respond appropriately.
4. Urination frequency: The severe dehydration could reduce the urination output. But if your toddler is urinating only once or twice in 24 hours, it is time to rush to your child’s paediatrician.
5. Cool hands and feet: THe hands and legs of your toddler might become cold and discoloured when your child is severely dehydrated.
Severe dehydration if left untreated, could even lead to death.
Dehydration can’t always be prevented. But you can definitely reduce the risk dehydration could pose to your child. So, whenever you observe the above signs and symptoms of dehydration in your child, start taking some precautions based on your pediatrician's advice.