How to Keep Your Child Hydrated During Summer Sports

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As an emergency room physician and pediatrician at Carolinas Medical Center, Sean Fox sees a consistent dose of summer-related injuries and the related consequences. During the summer, heat-related illness becomes a hazard to avoid. This term – heat-related illness – is applied to a spectrum of illness; one that ranges from mild to severe symptoms and can even result in death. As school sports practices start up again, be aware of the following tips Fox offers to prevent heat-related illness.

1. Stay cool. Makes sense, but often requires some effort. Schedule events during cooler hours of the days. Arrange to be back in cooler environments during the hottest times. Taking frequent breaks can also be helpful.

2. Hydrate early and often. If children start the activity dehydrated, they are going to have a hard time becoming adequately hydrated. Even if a child thinks he is not thirsty, it’s important to drink before and during the activity. A child should drink 8 to 16 ounces of fluid (water or appropriate sports drink) every 20 minutes during an activity. Avoid caffeinated beverages and excessively sugary drinks (like sodas).

3. The weight of the matter. The most ideal measure of dehydration is body weight. Knowing pre-activity weight and post-activity weight can give an indication of the actual amount of water that has been lost. Significant dehydration is noted when someone has lost 3 percent of his original weight.

4. Strategize to reduce risk. The American Academy of Pediatrics outlines the following strategies:

• Acclimatize slowly to the hotter weather. This may take up to two weeks.
• There should be unrestricted access to fluids during activities.
• Attempt to schedule events during cooler hours.
• Monitor for early heat-related illness symptoms, such as muscle cramps, excessive fatigue and weakness, headache, dizziness, nausea/vomiting and passing out.