Oral Rehydration for Children: Care Instructions

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Your child can get dehydrated when their body has lost too much water. This can happen because of vomiting, sweating, diarrhea, or fever. Dehydration can happen quickly in babies and young children. Severe dehydration can be life-threatening. You can give your child an oral rehydration drink to replace water and minerals. Several brands can be found in grocery stores and drugstores. These include Pedialyte, Infalyte, or Rehydralyte.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Do not give just water to your child. Use rehydration fluids as instructed. Give your child small sips every few minutes as soon as vomiting, diarrhea, or a fever starts. Give more fluids slowly when your child can keep them down.
  • Be safe with medicines. Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with a medicine.
  • Start to offer small amounts of food when your child feels like eating again.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has symptoms of dehydration that are getting worse, such as:
    • Dry eyes and a dry mouth.
    • Passing only a little urine.
    • Feeling thirstier than usual.
  • Your child cannot keep down fluids.
  • Your child is becoming less alert or aware.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.