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Hydration 101: 5 Facts to Know When You (or Your Kids) Are Sick

When the flu hits you or your little one (or both!) it can be daunting to assess which symptoms to address first. When most of us think of flu symptoms we immediately think of a low grade fever, aches and pains and nausea, which may lead to dehydration. Essentially a loss of body water, dehydration occurs when our body loses water faster than we can replace it, and can occur when stricken with unpleasant diarrhea and vomiting. While concerning, dehydration can typically be prevented or controlled if symptoms are caught early on and managed properly. 

With bugs and stomach flus running rampant this season, we reached out to Jennifer Williams, MPH, research scientist at Abbott, to share her top five important hydration facts to know--and some tips to help you (or your kids!) feel better, faster!


1. If you or anyone in your family is feeling a virus coming on, watch for decreased urination, dry mouth, sunken eyes, no or few tears when crying (especially in children), increased sleepiness and irritability. Dehydration in infants is particularly concerning as their body contains a higher proportion of water, so they’re impacted by water loss far more quickly than adults. For example, a 15-pound baby losing just three percent of their body weight (about the size of a small juice glass) in water translates into mild dehydration.

2. When a person loses fluids they’re also losing electrolytes, like sodium, potassium and chloride—which are needed to maintain fluid balance and keep our nervous systems and muscles functioning properly. For fast rehydration and the optimal balance of sugar and electrolytes, turn to Pedialyte. If you or your kids are dehydrated from a stomach bug, juice soda and sports drinks – which are often high in sugar and low in sodium – can actually make diarrhea worse.

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3. Fluids only make up about 80 percent of our daily water intake while food accounts for the additional 20 percent. When possible, try feeding your children bland but water-packed foods such as bananas, applesauce, warm broth. If food isn’t tolerated, try taking small sips of Pedialyte every 15 minutes and increase as tolerance improves.

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4. It’s no secret that kids are more susceptible to germs due to their increased exposure at school or daycare. In an effort to prevent what may seem like the inevitable, make sure your kids wash their hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water, disinfect common household items (such as phones, doorknobs and toys) and provide nutritious foods at meal times. In addition, keep your flu fighting arsenal packed with key items including fluids with an optimal balance of sugar and electrolytes, children’s fever reducer, thermometers and diaper rash cream to treat irritated bottoms.

5. Consult your doctor if vomiting, fever, or diarrhea continues beyond 24 hours or if consumption needs are greater than 2 liters (64 fl oz) per day. And, be prepared to answer a few simple questions about symptoms and recent fluid intake. 

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