Staying hydrated is one of the most important things to remember when participating in sports or other athletic activities, and it’s even more important for children and adolescents. Dehydration not only leaves your child tired and listless on the field, but it can lead to more serious problems the longer he or she goes without water. Young people are at elevated risk for dehydration when the weather is hot. However, dehydration can strike anywhere and any time they are participating in strenuous physical activity and not replenishing their fluids with water or sports drinks.
Parents watching their kids play from the stands also should be watching for indicators that their children might be showing the first signs of dehydration, which include dry lips or tongues, sunken eyes, apathy or lethargy, irritability, dizziness and excessive fatigue. These are red flags that parents should pull their children aside and tell them to take a break to rest and rehydrate. Most children won’t take themselves out of the game due to embarrassment or a desire to keep playing, so parents have to be mindful of the warning signs. If left untreated, dehydration can lead to more-serious heat-related illnesses, including heat cramps and heatstroke.
Just as kids often are so eager to keep playing that they will ignore the warning signs of dehydration, most kids take the field without ever being properly hydrated to play sports in the first place. In fact, the majority of kids and adolescents who play youth sports are dehydrated when they start playing. To make sure your children are properly hydrated before, during and after their sporting events, consult the following chart, which also contains some helpful information that will make it easier for you to encourage your children to stay hydrated throughout the day. Keeping your children hydrated while they play is the best way to ensure they can continue to give it their all on the field.