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Quick reference medical handouts used by Pediatric offices


How can I tell if my child is getting dehydrated when she is vomiting or has diarrhea?
    
Dehydration remains the most serious concern when a child is suffering from vomiting or diarrhea. Fortunately, dehydration usually occurs over several hours or days, and this gives parents many warning signs that their youngster may need further medical attention. Children will conserve any remaining body fluid during a bout of diarrhea or vomiting by urinating less, and this provides an excellent clue to the child's state of hydration. The pediatrician should be called if an infant has not urinated in 12 hours or an older child has not voided in 18 hours. Other telltale signs of dehydration include changes in weight (remember to use the same scale since scales vary), the absence of tears, a warm, dry mouth with little saliva, and, in infants, a sunken fontanelle ("the soft spot" on the baby's head). Other worrisome symptoms include the child who has both vomiting and diarrhea, the older child who becomes dizzy when standing, or a child of any age who becomes unusually sleepy or starts acting very sick. If a child becomes significantly dehydrated, intravenous fluids might be necessary to restore hydration.

 

As a reminder, this information should not be relied on as medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice of your child’s pediatrician. Please read our full disclaimer.

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