As fall sports start up, now is a great time to instill good hydration habits in your kids. Without frequent reminders, children may not drink enough liquid to stay hydrated while participating in extracurricular activities. Prolonged amounts of heat, strenuous exercise, and inadequate fluid intake can lead to dehydration. The symptoms of dehydration include thirst, excessive fatigue, dry skin, cramps, infrequent urination, dizziness, and confusion. If left untreated, it can lead to serious heat-related illnesses.
Talk with your children about dehydration prevention using the following guidelines for before, during, and after practice.
- Pack a lunch and snacks with foods high in water, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Take sips from a water fountain throughout the day to increase fluid intake.
- Bring a sports drink or water bottle to drink at practice.
- If practicing outside, wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Take a sip of water or sports drink at least every 15 to 20 minutes, even if you aren’t thirsty.
- If you get painful muscle cramps or spasms, rest and drink fluids.
- If you start to feel nauseous, lightheaded, or ill, alert your coach right away.
- Continue drinking liquids to replenish the fluids lost during practice.
- Drink a sports drink or eat a healthy snack, like milk or bananas, to maintain electrolyte balance.
If your child has chronic health problems, takes certain medications, is overweight, or rarely exercises, he or she may be more susceptible to dehydration. Other risk factors include being exhausted and wearing heavy clothing, like uniforms or special equipment, in the heat.
If your child is dehydrated and unable to take fluids or displays any signs of heat stroke, call 911 or take him or her to the nearest emergency facility right away. CHI St. Luke’s Health hospital emergency departments are equipped to treat any medical emergency.