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Dehydration and Heat-Related Illness

Dehydration, Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke – How to Keep An Eye on Your Child for These Heat-Related Illnesses

Children have more body surface area per pound of weight than adults. This makes children more prone to heat illness. Early warning signs include dehydration.

Symptoms of Dehydration

  • Thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling hot

If your child complains of thirst, feels hot or becomes irritable in the heat, the child may have early dehydration. Make sure the child drinks plenty of cool fluids. Keep the child out of the sun and in a cool, comfortable place.

If theses symptoms are ignored, more serious heat illnesses can occur, like heat exhaustion and heat stroke, putting your child at great risk.

What Is Heat Exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion requires immediate attention. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, weakness, profuse sweating, excessive thirst, muscle aches and cramps, agitation or irritability, and sometimes unconsciousness. In some cases, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke which requires emergency medical treatment.

What Do I Do If My Child Has Heat Exhaustion?
Bring the child to a cool place and have the child drink plenty of fluids. The child should not be allowed to play again that day.

If the child is becoming unconscious or confused, has a seizure, difficulty breathing, vomiting or diarrhea, seek medical attention immediately.

What Is Heat Stroke?
Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Symptoms of heat stroke include a high body temperature (104°F-105°F or higher); nausea and vomiting; seizures; disorientation or delirium; hot, dry skin or profuse sweating; unconsciousness; coma; shortness of breath; decreased urination; or blood in urine or stool.

Heat stroke can occur suddenly, without any symptoms of heat exhaustion.

What Do I Do If My Child Has Heat Stroke?
Get the child to the emergency room immediately. Cool the body while awaiting the ambulance by removing clothing and placing ice bags on the neck, in the armpits, and the groin areas. Fan the child and spray with cool water. If child is awake and able to swallow, give fluids.

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