Although a healthy teenager isn't at the same risk of dehydration as a young infant or an elderly person, your teen's busy lifestyle, illness or athletic participation can increase the risk. Drinking lots of caffeinated beverages such as soda, coffee or energy drinks can also potentially increase your teen's chances of dehydration, according to KidsHealth.org. Understanding the symptoms of dehydration helps alert you and your teen to take action before her condition becomes more serious, or even deadly.
By the time your teen starts showing signs of dehydration, his body has already lost too much fluid. As a result, his body begins functioning at a subpar level in order to conserve the fluid that remains for the most important systems and organs. Symptoms of dehydration can include dry mouth, dark urine, muscle cramping, feeling lightheaded and nausea. Thirst is also a sign of dehydration, but it's a very late sign and not one your teen should wait for, according to SafeKids.org.
Dehydration From Sports and Heat
According to the Hydration Foundation, dehydration is one of the easiest sports-related conditions to contract. If your athletic teen trains regularly, she can quickly become dehydrated, even if exercising in cold or rainy weather. Sweating out sodium and electrolytes depletes her body of vital nutrients necessary for her body to function properly, never mind optimally for athletics. To avoid dehydration, she should drink small amounts of a caffeine-free sports drink throughout her workout that contains sodium, sugar and electrolytes to ensure she absorbs and retains the fluid.
Dehydration from Illness
Your teen might think of himself as invincible, but fever, vomiting and diarrhea can quickly drain his fluid supply. If he begins experiencing vomiting, fever or diarrhea, encourage him to drink a few ounces of an oral rehydration solution, available at any drug or grocery store. Ensure that he drinks at least every half hour or more if he's able to keep fluids down. A cranky, sick teenager might whine for soda or a juice drink, but try to resist as both can exacerbate diarrhea and irritate his stomach, warns the Hydration Foundation.
Preventing your teen from becoming dehydrated is much easier than trying to rehydrate her later. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is a good start, including a large glass of water when she wakes up along with another one mixed with an electrolyte sports beverage before and after practice, hiking or exercising. Also, encourage her to eat water-heavy fresh fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, sweet peppers, oranges and carrots.
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