Is Dehydration While Swimming a Problem for Your Child?
Swimming is a summer highlight for many children, but it may surprise you to know that dehydration is a common problem. Get expert tips to keep your kids hydrated at the pool.
Spending time at the pool and running through sprinklers are the highlights of summer for many children. If allowed, most kids would swim all day — but even with all that water around, you need to make sure there’s also a drop to drink nearby.
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It may seem counter-intuitive because they are playing in water, but kids who spend a lot of time outside at the pool or lake are really susceptible to dehydration.
They are still sweating and losing precious fluids they need to keep them hydrated in the heat, says Purva Grover, MD, Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic Children’s Pediatric Emergency Departments.
The good news is that it’s easy to keep children from getting dehydrated during water play. Here’s what you need to know to keep your child well hydrated while swimming.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children drink water before, during and after swimming.
It’s important to focus on water because sugary drinks like soda or lemonade can actually increase a child’s chances of dehydration, Dr. Grover says. She recommends flavoring water with fresh strawberries or slices of cucumber or lemon to make it more appealing to kids.
For best results, aim for the following:
Children should only drink sports drinks after at least an hour of competitive or vigorous swimming. At that point, they begin to lose electrolytes (substances in the blood that help maintain the proper balance of body fluids). Sports drinks will optimize hydration.
There are a few important steps you can take to cut down your child’s chances of becoming dehydrated during all of the fun in the sun:
If children start to show any of these signs, it may mean they’re getting overheated and need to get into the shade and drink more water.
If your child shows signs of minor dehydration, Dr. Grover recommends a homemade “sports drink” that will replenish fluids quickly — a glass of water with a pinch of salt and sugar.
Are you worried that your child has a more severe problem? He or she may need IV fluids. “If you think something is wrong, you should call your doctor right away,” Dr. Grover says.