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Dehydration in Children

Dehydration in Children

Dehydration occurs when the body loses too much water. This can occur if a child loses large amounts of fluid through diarrhea, vomiting, or sweating. Dehydration decreases the amount of blood that circulates to the child's organs. Severe dehydration can cause shock , a life-threatening condition.

Dehydration in small children can develop rapidly and be very dangerous. Watch closely for early signs of dehydration any time your child has a high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or is too sick to drink.

A young child will not be able to tell you if he or she is feeling dehydrated, so you must look for the symptoms.

A child with mild dehydration:

  • The child is more thirsty than usual.
  • The child's urine is darker than usual.

A child with moderate dehydration:

  • The child is a lot more thirsty than usual.
  • The child's mouth and eyes are drier than usual.
  • The child's urine is much darker than usual.
  • The child passes little or no urine for 8 or more hours.
  • The child feels dizzy when he or she stands or sits up.

Severe dehydration is a medical emergency. Call 911 or other emergency services immediately.

A child with severe dehydration:

  • The child's mouth and eyes are extremely dry.
  • The child passes little or no urine for 12 or more hours.
  • The child does not seem alert or able to think clearly.
  • The child is too weak or dizzy to stand.
  • The child may pass out.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised May 2, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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