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Summer Series: Heat and dehydration: By Allison Landoll, DO
June 23, 2017

Now that summer is in full swing, it is not unusual to see temperatures climbing above 90°F. Children are especially susceptible to dehydration and other related illnesses, so here are some tips to make sure your kids stay healthy in the heat:

 

·        Make sure your child stays hydrated with plenty of water. Encourage drinking often, even before your child asks for it.

·        If your child is feeling hot, bring them into the shade, give a cool bath, or mist with water to help cool down.

·        Find cool, air-conditioned spaces. If your home does not have air-conditioning, the public library or other public buildings may be great choices for keeping cool.

·        Never leave children in a car. Within 10 minutes, a car can heat up an additional 20 degrees. Since a child’s body heats up 3-5 times faster than an adult’s, children are more susceptible to these changes and can quickly have life-threatening damage.

 

Older children and teenagers who engage in exercise or sports are also susceptible to heat related injury. Exercising muscles create about 10-20 times more heat than resting muscles, and the body attempts to get rid of this excess heat by sweating. If the body is unable to sweat efficiently, the body temperature will rise, resulting in illness. To help prevent sports related heat injuries:

·        Work out during the coolest parts of the day

·        Schedule frequent breaks

·        Gradually adjust to hot weather by increasing exercise intensity over the course of a week or so

·        Drink water. For most people, water is just as good as Gatorade or Powerade to prevent heat illnesses. During exercise, children should drink about 4-8 ounces every 20 minutes.

 

Signs of heat related illness include feeling dizzy or tired, headache, nausea, vomiting, increased thirst, decreased urination, or muscle ache. If your child experiences these symptoms and does not have a fever, bring them inside to rest and drink cool salt-containing drinks, like sports drinks. If you do not have sports drinks in your home, you can make a similar solution with 30 ounces of water, 2 tablespoons of white sugar, and ½ teaspoon of salt. This will help replenish the water lost through the sweat.

 

If your child has symptoms of heat related illness with the addition of a fever (temperature greater than 100.4°F), this could be a sign of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat exhaustion is characterized by a fever less than 104°F, and may be treated at home with rest and salt-containing drinks. If the child does not improve with treatment or is unable to drink, he or she should be taken to the ER.

 

Heat stroke is life-threatening. Body temperatures are greater than 104°F and symptoms may include confusion, seizures, shock, unresponsiveness, and heart attack. If you are concerned about heat stroke, call 911 and begin cooling the child immediately with cool water.

 

In babies, a common result of heat exposure is rash, which is caused by blocked sweat glands. The rash looks like tiny red bumps and is usually located in the skin folds of the neck, and on the chest, arms, legs, and diaper area. To try to prevent the rash, keep skin cool and dry by using cold water to remove sweat and oil, followed by gentle drying. If your baby has a heat rash, continue cleansing normally, and try to leave the areas open to air indoors. The cool air inside will help the rash go away. Do not apply ointments or creams as it may block more sweat ducts.

 

If you have any questions regarding heat-related illnesses, Madison Health Primary Care can help.

 

Dr. Allison Landoll is a pediatrician at Madison Health Primary Care in London. To make an appointment, please call 740-845-7500.  The practice is currently accepting new patients.
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