Dehydration is a common complication of childhood illnesses. It can occur due to vomiting, diarrhoea or poor intake due to any illness or high fever. Preventing dehydration, recognizing and early treatment of dehydration is important.
- During fevers and any illness, it is important to give adequate water to children.
- During episodes of vomiting and diarrhoea, children need to be given oral rehydration fluids (ORF) to additionally replace salt and electrolytes.
ORAL REHYDRATION FLUIDS
- ORF (Oral Rehydration Fluid) for Infants
- 1 litre of water + 6 tsp sugar + 1/4 tsp salt
- ORF (Oral Rehydration Fluid) for Children
- 1 litre of water + 6 tsp sugar + 1/2 tsp salt
- Commercial ORF packets
- These are available in Sachets (add in 200 ml of water) and in larger packs (add in 1 litre of water).
- Other Liquids
- Coconut Water
- Plain Water
- Apple Juice
- Pomegranate Juice
- ORF however has the right proportion of Salt and Sugar and is preferred in severe cases.
HOW TO PREVENT DEHYDRATION
Offer extra fluids after each loose stool or vomit to prevent dehydration.
- For infants: 60-90 ml
- For children: 120-180 ml
DIET DURING DEHYDRATION AND DIARRHEA
- Babies on Breastfeeds, Formula or Fresh Milk can continue to be offered milk.
- Milk needs to be restricted only in children with prolonged diarrhoea, due to Lactose Intolerance.
- Maintaining nutrition with a normal diet is important.
- During illnesses, the appetite may be below. Offer small frequent feeds even when a child is unwell or has loose motions.
- If the child is vomiting, preventing dehydration is the priority. As soon as the vomiting improves, offer small amounts of foods and increase as tolerated.
- Foods that are easy to digest include Rice, Khichdi, Apples and Bananas.
- Sugary, oily or spicy foods.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE DEHYDRATION:
Inform your doctor immediately IF:
- Dry tongue
- Less Urine Output
- Loss of Elasticity of the Skin
- Lethargy / Drowsiness
- Depressed soft-spot on the head
Children who are dehydrated, need additional amounts of ORF. If the dehydration is severe, intravenous fluids are sometimes needed to correct dehydration.
Dr. Mahesh Balsekar | Senior Consultant – Paediatrics | SRCC Children’s Hospital, Mumbai