Ask the Expert: Summer Hydration

Hydrate to avoid Heat Exhaustion this Summer

Hydration Thirsty Boy Drinking Water Outdoors

Source: Thinkstock

Summer is nearly here and so is the Texas heat!  Heat-related illnesses, which include heat exhaustion and heat stroke, can be caused by dehydration and fatigue. They can develop suddenly when the heat is high and a person’s body can’t cool down fast enough. Children and teens are more apt to dehydration, because they are excited to participate in activities and often overlook or are too distracted to remember to hydrate properly.

How much do kids need to drink to stay hydrated?

The best thing to do is schedule outside activities for the coolest times of the day – early morning or late evening. But when that’s not possible, hydration is key – both before, during and after outside activities.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:  Generally, 3 to 8 oz. every 20 minutes for 9- to 12-year-olds and up to 34 to 50 oz. per hour for adolescents is enough to minimize sweat-induced body-water deficits during exercise if pre-activity hydration status is good.

6 ways to keep hydrated BEFORE outdoor activities

  1. Drink fluids at every meal and snack
  2. Choose cold water and sodium-free seltzers.
  3. Try using an infuser water bottle which allows you to add fresh fruit to flavor water, naturally.
  4. Avoid sodas, sports drinks or drinks with added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  5. It’s OK to dilute 100 percent juice, but limit it to just 6 oz. a day for kids 6 and under and 12 oz. a day for kids over 6.
  6. Fruit punches, sports drinks, sweetened ice teas can be a source of caffeine and sugar. Added sugar can slow down the body’s ability to absorb fluids, and caffeine can raise the heart rate and cause headaches. As for sports drinks, experts say they’re only helpful for intense activities that last more than an hour. Water is a better choice.

Hydration through snacks?

Yes! Snacks are a great way to get more water in your system.  A healthy mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack will help keep energy levels up.

  • Fruits and vegetables are up to 90 percent water, so they’re a great way to keep hydrated as well. Melon, berries, sliced bell peppers or cucumbers are all great hydro-snacks!
  • Yogurt is also a good source of water and protein. Blend plain yogurt with fruit to keep the sugar levels low.

What does dehydration look like?

Be alert for the following warning signs of dehydration, and notify your pediatrician or call 911 if any of these symptoms develop:

  • Extremely dry mouth and/or no tears
  • Lethargy
  • Does not urinate in 12 or more hours
  • Isn’t alert or able to think clearly
  • Passes out
  • Is too weak or dizzy to stand

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Daniel Howard, M.D. is a board-certified pediatrician with The Austin Diagnostic Clinic (ADC) Cedar Bend in north Austin.  With four Pediatric offices in Central Texas, The Austin Diagnostic Clinic also offers primary, specialty and urgent care for adults too!  For more information, or to make an appointment contact our 24-hour call center at 512-901-1111 or visit ADClinic.com.

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