How to Recognize, Prevent, and Treat Heat Illness in Kids

A pediatrician helps parents recognize the signs and symptoms of possible overheating in a child and how to avoid and treat heat illness.

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CLEVELAND – Fun in the sun can lead to heat illness and dehydration quickly for a child.

Richard So, MD, pediatrician for Cleveland Clinic Children’s, said you can help beat the heat by hydrating the night before.

“If you start your tank at halfway, as the day goes on, you’re going to come down. I want you to drink a bottle of water before you go to bed and another one before you start in the morning, so you start your day at a full tank,” said Dr. So. “Then as you play, and you get dehydrated, you can actually just stay up in higher levels.”

High temperatures and humidity can cause heat illness. Humidity can drain important body fluids children need to stay hydrated.

If your child appears tired, cranky, or fatigued while outside playing, they may be suffering symptoms of dehydration.

On a hot day, an overly ornery child may need to take a break, get in the shade and drink some water.

Dr. So said water is always best for battling dehydration in kids, but sports drinks or even an ice cream cone can help cool them done from inside out.

If your child is experiencing heat cramps, they’ll need electrolytes and salt, like potato chips or pickle juice, in addition to water.

A real red flag is exhaustion and vomiting. These are dangerous signs of possible heat stroke and could mean a child is fluid deficient and their body temperature is too hot.

“When you see a kid that’s in the heat and they’re vomiting, that’s a tell-tale sign that that kid is in trouble, where, number one, the first thing you need to do is cool that kid down,” Dr. So advised.

Dr. So said ice, a garden hose or a pool are good ways to quickly cool a child’s body temperature. However, if your child is having changes in consciousness, seek medical attention immediately.

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