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Dehydration and Heat Illness in Children

Treating Heat Illness With Dehydration in Kids continued...

 

Heat syncope . Heat syncope is an episode of fainting or dizziness that occurs with prolonged standing or after suddenly rising from a standing or sitting position. In severe instances, the child may lose consciousness. People who exercise without a cool-down period, are dehydrated, and aren't acclimatized to the hot conditions are more likely to experience this problem. Treatment consists of lying the person down and giving fluids if possible. If the person is unconscious or not able to drink, seek medical attention immediately. 

 

Heat exhaustion . Heat exhaustion requires immediate attention. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, weakness, profuse sweating, excessive thirst, muscle aches and cramps, agitation or irritability, and sometimes unconsciousness. "This is a child who looks really wiped out and has symptoms of a clear problem to the casual observer, but her temperature is still less than 104," says Hergenroeder. Heat exhaustion requires immediate attention but is not usually life-threatening. However, in some cases, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which requires emergency medical treatment.

 

Just as with heat cramps, a child with heat exhaustion should be brought to a cool place and given plenty of fluids. The child should not be allowed to play or practice again that day. If he is becoming unconscious or confused, has a seizure, difficulty breathing, vomiting, or diarrhea, seek medical attention immediately.

 

Heat stroke . Heat stroke is also a medical emergency. Heat stroke is characterized by a high body temperature (often it's 104°F-105°F or higher) and marked symptoms, including nausea and vomiting; seizures; disorientation or delirium; hot, dry skin (although in some cases a person with heat stroke has profuse sweating); unconsciousness; coma; shortness of breath; decreased urination; or blood in urine or stool. It can occur suddenly, without any symptoms of heat exhaustion. "A child with heat stroke is going to the emergency room immediately, packed in ice, with IV fluids," says Hergenroeder.

 

For a child with heat stroke, cool the body while awaiting the ambulance by removing clothing and placing ice bags on the neck, in the armpits, and the groin areas. Fan the person and spray with cool water. If she is awake and able to swallow, give fluids.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on February 25, 2013

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