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TYLER, June 7, 2017 -- As the dog days of summer are now here, it is a great time to discuss summer activities for kids and the issues they can easily face with dehydration outside in the Texas sun. Dr. Marshall Dawer of UnitedHealthcare can provide insight about avoiding dehydration, identifying dehydration, reacting and treating the signs and symptoms.
Background information/important tips about dehydration:
Children are at a higher risk for dehydration than adults for several reasons:
1) Their cooling system isn’t fully developed. The surface area of a child is smaller and sweat glands aren’t fully developed, this makes it much harder for the body to cool itself.
2) Most people are aware of the effects of humidity on hydration and the risk humidity poses. A dry climate can be just as dangerous for four primary reasons:
o Sweat evaporates about as quickly as it is produced, not allowing the cooling effect to take place and you become dehydrated much more quickly – especially children, because they don’t even realize they are getting hot or sweating.
o If the child goes out to play or start sports without eating or drinking beforehand – they may already be in a semi-dehydrated state, especially if going out in the morning which is a time of day when most people are dehydrated.
o Children have less hair on their bodies to help cool them off.
For outdoor play and for sports here are some simple tips:
Ø For every 15 minutes of outdoor activity drink about 4 ounces of water, this is approximately 4 gulps.
Ø After about 30 – 45 minutes of outdoor play, provide the child with some salt and potassium to help protect against electrolyte loss and promote hydration. The best recommendation for this is to provide some pretzels or gold fish or a cheese stick with some oranges, banana, or strawberries. The fruit provides the potassium and easily absorbed glucose which helps get the water into the body more quickly, the easy to digest pretzels and gold fish offer some more glucose and some salt. Using foods to supply the glucose and electrolytes versus the sugary sports drinks actually helps with the fluid absorption and prevents sloshing or upset stomach from drinking too much fluid quickly. This is especially important when playing sports. Keep in mind that sports drinks were developed with an adult’s body in mind.
Ø Children should drink half of their fluids from water and the other half should come from milk, 100% fruit juice or smoothies.
Ø Great ways to increase hydration in children is to make home-made popsicles and gelato with real fruit, providing a fresh fruit smoothie made with coconut water, milk or milk substitute, or yogurt after some time outside is great, too!
Ø Carbonated water mixed with fruit juice is a great alternative to soda. It is super fun to use frozen fruit as ice-cubes in water or seltzer waters, too.
It is important to note that heat stroke typically happens in shorter intense activities than it does in prolonged duration. This is important to note for soccer, kids running and playing tag.
Special considerations should be paid to swimming pools, especially when the ambient air temperatures are above 80% and the pools are > 76 degrees. We sweat in the pool but don’t realize it. It is very easy and common for a child to overheat in a pool and become disoriented from dehydration
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