When it's hot outside and you've been sweating, you get thirsty. Why? Thirst can
be a sign of dehydration (say: dee-hye-DRAY-shun). Dehydration
means that your body doesn't have enough water in it to keep it working right.
A person gets water by drinking and eating. You lose water when you sweat, urinate
(pee), have diarrhea, or throw up. You even lose a little water when you breathe.
Our bodies need water to work properly. Usually, you can make up for the water
you lose — like when you come in from outside and have a long, cool drink of
water. If you don't replace the water your body has lost, you might start feeling
sick. And if you go too long without the water you need, you can become very ill and
might need to go to the hospital.
Why Am I Dehydrated?
Many times kids get dehydrated when they're playing hard and having fun. Have you
ever gotten really sweaty and red-faced when you've been playing? This often happens
when it's hot outside, but it can happen indoors, too, like if you're practicing basketball
in a gym.
Kids also can get dehydrated when they're sick. If you have a stomach
virus, you might throw up or have diarrhea
(say: dye-uh-REE-uh) or both. On top of that, you probably don't feel very much like
eating or drinking.
If you have a sore throat, you might find it hard to swallow food or drink. And
if you have a fever, you can lose fluids because water evaporates from your skin in
an attempt to cool your body down. That's why your mom or dad tells you to drink a
lot of fluids when you're sick.
What Are the Signs of Dehydration?
Being thirsty is the top clue. Here are some other signs that a person might be
feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or tired
dry lips and mouth
Another sign of dehydration is not peeing as much or having dark or strong-smelling
pee (pee usually is a pale yellow color).
What Should I Do?
If you can, try not to get dehydrated in the first place. If you're going to be
going outside, it's a good idea to drink
water before, during, and after you play, especially if it's hot. Dehydration
can happen along with heat-related illnesses, such as heat
exhaustion and heat stroke.
So do you have to drink eight glasses of water a day? No, but you do need to drink
enough to satisfy your thirst, and maybe a little extra if you're going to be exercising.
Also, it's smart to dress in cool clothes and take breaks indoors or at least in the
If you're sick, keep taking small sips of drinks like water or diluted juice, even
if you're not that thirsty or hungry. Eating an icepop is a great way to get fluids.
Other foods, such as fruits and vegetables, contain water too, but if your stomach
is not feeling well you might not be ready for them.
Limit soda and other sugary drinks, such as fruit punches, lemonades, and iced
teas. These drinks have a lot of sugar that your body doesn't need. Some also contain
caffeine, which can make you pee
more a lot. In other words, it tells your body to get rid of fluids. And as you now
know, that's the opposite of what you need to do if you're dehydrated!
Do I Need a Doctor?
Some cases of dehydration can be handled at home. But sometimes, that isn't enough
to get a kid feeling better. A kid may need to go to the doctor or emergency room
if he or she has a heat-related illness or a virus with vomiting or diarrhea that
just won't quit.
At the hospital, the good news is that an intravenous (say: in-truh-VEE-nus)
(IV) line can get fluids into your body fast. An IV line is a special tube (like a
very thin straw) that goes right into your vein, so the liquid goes right to where
your body needs it most. It may pinch a little when the nurse is inserting it, but
it will help you feel much better.