(05/10/13) - Your child can become dangerously dehydrated, before you notice obvious symptoms, especially kids who play sports. Let's be honest, adults get dehydrated and do not even know that is what is making us feel so cruddy.
When you are hard at play, it's hard to think about drinking water, says Ricky, who plays soccer in Linden, "it's hard to drink water, I don't really get thirsty a lot."
But, thirst is the least reliable symptom when it comes to dehydration, says Kristin Zvoch, "our thirst response, especially in children and older adults is actually too late, you are already dehydrated when you become thirsty."
A registered dietician, at Hurley Health and Fitness Center, Zvoch says the signs of dehydration can be a little subtle - mild headache, feeling a bit off and cramps.
She says there is one tell tale early sign, "the best way to know if you are well-hydrated is to pay attention to the color of your urine. We want it to be clear to pale yellow, when it starts to get dark in color, you know you need to start drinking more."
Getting kids to drink more during a game or practice, says AYSO soccer coach, Danielle Dixon is not really the hard part, "I think probably the challenge as a lot of parents find is that they don't want to drink it at home."
Ricky's mom, Melanie Rockman says it is a challenge, "it's hard. It's hard to make yourself drink water."
Drinking water, keeping yourself hydrated, starts way before practice or game day. If you to overcompensate by loading up on water right before or after, your body will retaliate, and get rid of it.
"So you really need to practice or train your body to take in an adequate amount of water and once you do, the urination will stop because your body will learn how to store and use the water," Zvoch says.
Just to maintain your body outside of sports, you need to drink half your body weight, in ounces - that would be 50 oz of water a day for a 100 pound person.
"Then, the day of the game, you want to try to have a half a cup 4oz to 8oz of water an hour or two before the game. And then the same amount 15 minutes before the game. Then, during the activity you want to have a cup every 15 minutes," Zvoch adds.
Ricky says his team does it, "we do it like 4 times every practice."
Still, Zvoch says, everyone is different, so get your kids to listen to their bodies, "even mild to moderate dehydration causes loss of strength, loss of energy, loss of coordination, and can actually affect that game. The severe form of dehydration, that is when that body is dangerously over heating and that leads to heat exhaustion or heat stroke and you end up in the ER, so you really do need to keep on them about it, kids are not going to be good about that."
Sports drinks are a good idea, after 60 minutes of exercise - when you sweat, you lose electrolytes and sugars and your body needs those back.
If your child gets "sloshy belly", maybe drop down the amount of water during play. Caffeine and high sugar drinks are not a substitute for water, put fresh fruit in water to make it taste better, or try uncaffeinated iced teas.
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