If your child has a gastrointestinal infection, chances are it will not last more than a couple of days. Even so, vomiting and diarrhea, even when experienced for only short periods of time, can have major health consequences on small children. Dehydration resulting from an acute gastrointestinal infection may require an examination by a pediatric services physician. Here are some warning signs of this kind of dehydration.
Lack Of Tears And Urine
If your child has been vomiting and has diarrhea, he or she may become dehydrated very quickly. Two warning signs of dehydration in children are lack of tear production when crying and a decrease in urination. If your child's diaper remains dry after many hours, he or she may be dehydrated.
It is essential that the child see a pediatrician as soon as possible because re-hydration measures will need to be implemented. In the meantime, offer your child both water and an electrolyte-based drink to help replenish magnesium, potassium, chloride, and sodium that have been lost through vomiting, fever, and diarrhea. If electrolytes are not replaced, your child may be at risk for a heart rate rhythm changes, rapid breathing, lethargy, and muscle weakness.
Poor Skin Turgor
Another sign of dehydration is poor skin turgor. To test skin turgor status, gently pinch the skin on the top of your child's hand. Normally, the skin should snap back into position after a second or so; however, if your child is dehydrated, the pinched skin will remain raised longer, or take on a "tenting" appearance.
Replacing lost fluids will help reverse dehydration's effects on the skin, but your child will need medical attention, even after the skin turgor returns to normal. If your child refuses liquids for prolonged periods of time because or nausea and vomiting, the pediatrician may recommend that you take the child to the hospital, where replacement fluids can be administered intravenously. Once fluids and electrolytes have reversed your child's dehydrated state, the skin turgor will normalize and the child will start to perk up.
If you believe your child has become dehydrated as a result of a gastrointestinal infection or otherwise, make sure that he or she drinks plenty of fluids, then call pediatric services. The sooner dehydration is recognized and treated, the less likely your child will be to develop muscle weakness, electrolyte imbalances, rhythm problems of the heart, blood pressure problems, shortness of breath, and lethargy.