How to prevent dehydration and heatstroke in children during summer through nutritional foods

Dehydration is a major concern in young children in summer

K. ParkaviUpdated:Saturday, April 23, 2022, 11:54 PM IST
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W e lose water every day through natural bodily functions, but dehydration occurs when we lose more bodily fluids than we’re taking in. We need to maintain the proper balance of these in our system,” says Jennifer Williams, MPH, a Columbus, Ohio–based nutrition scientist and hydration expert at Abbott.

Dehydration in children

Dehydration is a major concern in young children in summer. They tend to play in the hot sun during vacations. Infants are more susceptible to dehydration because of their increased fluid losses (due to a higher metabolic rate) and decreased fluid intake, and inability to communicate thirst or seek fluid. Dehydration may happen because of vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or not drinking enough water.

Symptoms of dehydration in children include dark coloured urine, sunken eyes, decreased frequency of urination, dry mouth, blood in stool, lethargy (less than normal activity), irritability (more crying, fussiness with inconsolability).

Heat stroke in children

Heatstroke occurs in children with ambient heat exposure of ≥40 to 40.5°C (104 to 105°F) accompanied by central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction. Lack of sweating is frequently associated with heatstroke. This condition is mainly represented by the failure of the body’s ability to maintain a normal body temperature.

Symptoms of heatstroke in children include intense thirst, weakness or fainting, cramps in the arms, legs, and stomach, headache, pale clammy skin, no appetite, nausea, and vomiting.

Here are some ways to prevent dehydration and heat stroke in children during summer:

Look water first

Don’t wait till the child is thirsty: By the time the child is thirsty, he/she is already slightly dehydrated. Make them sip water steadily throughout the day and drink more fluids when the weather is hot.

Use flavoured water: Add a wedge of lemon to the water. This can help improve the taste and help them drink more water than they usually do. Include water, tender coconut water, and green tea, lemon water with salt, black coffee/tea, and clear soups to quench thirst.

Replace salt and minerals: Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body that need to be replaced. Water with a pinch of salt helps in replacing the salt and minerals lost in sweat.

Eat water rich fruits and vegetables: When looking at fruits, melons — watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew are excellent choices. Strawberries are also good as they contain 91% of water. Peaches and citrus fruits are also top options to stay hydrated.

For vegetables, many fresh vegetables are also water-rich and hydrating options. Zucchini, cucumber, celery, and cauliflower are healthy and contain 95% of water. Lettuce, spinach, and kale are also water-rich and nutritious.

Think of broths and soups that are refreshing and homemade broths make hydrating simple.

Staying hydrated not only helps the children in avoiding dehydration and heat strokes but also helps them to feel better overall by improving mood, boosting brain function and preventing fatigue.

Tips to drink more water

1. Carry a bottle and refill it throughout the day

2. Set a daily goal

3. Sip throughout the day

4. Choose water over sugary drinks

5. Drink one glass of water before every meal

6. Serve water during meals

7. Drink flavored water

8. Eat more foods high in water

9. Drink one glass of water after wake up and before bed

(The writer is a Nutritionist at Medall Blume)

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