Panhandle Expert: Children have higher risk of dehydration during extreme temperatures

Panhandle Expert: Children have higher risk of dehydration during extreme temperatures - clipped version
Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 5:03 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 18, 2022 at 5:49 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - As temperatures rise to the triple digits so does the risk of dehydration for many in the Panhandle including children, who need more water than adults during these times.

Doctor Anders Leverton, physicians pediatrician at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, says children require more water per pound compared to adults.

Signs in children developing heat stroke, and becoming dehydrated are more severe in children due to higher metabolism rates, and requiring more water.

“If hot enough kids can develop heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Kids are particularly good at playing no matter what to have fun, right we all did it. It’s very important to keep the kids staying hydrated, making sure they’re drinking water,” said Doctor Leverton.

The “4 gulp Rule for Water” is recommended for hydration, for every 15 minutes of outdoor activity, drink about 4 ounces of water, which is approximately 4 gulps.

Other hydration tips include:

  • Skip soda and sports drinks - they were developed with an adult’s body in mind
  • Pretzels, fruit and cheese, please: Every 30 to 45 minutes give the child a small snack with salt and potassium to help protect against electrolyte loss and promote hydration
  • Smoothies as an alternative to ice cream: children should drink half of their fluids from water and the other half from milk, 100 percent fruit juices or smoothies
  • Increase hydration with popsicle’s, jello, smoothies, and yogurt
  • Be alert to medications: some prescription medications can be dangerous with excessive exposure to sunlight or may speed up dehydration
  • Hang a pee chart in the bathroom: make a color-coded chart from clear to light yellow to dark yellow to show each child what a healthy level of hydration looks like and when they need to drink more water.

It is also recommended for children to take breaks during play time to re-hydrate and cool down.

“When it’s hot, what we want to do is we all want to jump in the swimming pool right? So, your body wants the same thing,” said Doctor Leverton. “For kids, when you’re playing outside or just playing in general make sure they’re taking breaks, make sure they’re getting plenty of water to drink and that they’re taking the time to drink that and go back out.”

Dehydration may range from simple fatigue to as complex as passing out.

Common signs of dehydration may include:

  • A dry or sticky mouth
  • Few or no tears when crying eyes look sunken
  • Urinating less
  • Dry, cool skin
  • Irritability
  • Drowsiness or dizziness
  • Not sweating - seek emergency care immediately

“Summer time is a great time to get outside but it’s also a great time to remember that you need to stay hydrated,” said Doctor Leverton. “They’re more likely to hurt themselves if they’re pushing themselves past the point of exhaustion. It can be all over can be from simple just fatigue to overall passing out.”

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