Dehydration in Young Athletes: Prevention, Signs and Treatment

Athletes are at risk of dehydration if they don’t get enough fluid to replace what is lost through the skin as sweat and through the lungs while breathing.

Some of the sports where athletes are most vulnerable to dehydration are basketball and football.

Ways to avoid dehydration:

To prevent dehydration in young athletes, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after a workout or game. An athlete’s performance can be impacted by even mild dehydration.

  • Athletes should take a water bottle to school and drink between classes and during breaks so that they are well-hydrated before their workout
  • Water should be readily available when working out
  • Athletes should drink often – ideally every 15 to 30 minutes
  • Sports drinks are recommended for activities lasting longer than one hour to replace sugar and salt as well as water

Early signs of dehydration:

  • Fatigue
  • Decreased athletic performance
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Apathy
  • Irritability
  • Thirst

Signs of advanced dehydration:

  • Dark urine
  • Dry lips and mouth
  • Decrease in reaction time
  • Disorientation

What to do when dehydration is suspected:

Athletes with signs of dehydration should rest and drink water or sports drinks. If the athlete doesn’t improve, feels dizzy or faint or has not had much urine output, he should be seen by a doctor. Seek emergency treatment if the child is disoriented, unable to drink or has pale skin.

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