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DEHYDRATION

Most children who die from diarrhea because they do not have enough water left in their bodies. This lack water is called dehydration.

Dehydration results when the body loses more liquid than it taken it. This can happen with severe diarrhea, especially when there is vomiting as well. It can also happen in very serious illness, when a person is too sick to take much food or liquid.

People of any age can become dehydrated, but dehydration develops more quickly and most dangerous in small children.

A baby needs water to drink, especially in hot weather. Often a mother does not give water to her baby till he is six months old. A baby cannot tell his mother he is thirsty, but needs water several times a day. The mother should take water from a clean source and keep it in a covered pot. If possible, she should boil the water for her baby. Especially when the baby has diarrhoea or vomiting, he loses a lot of water from his body. He needs extra water many times a day.

It is important that everyone - especially mothers - know the signs of dehydration and how to prevent and treat it.

Signs of Dehydration:


  • little or no urine; the urine is dark yellow.
  • sudden weight loss if previous weight is known.
  • dry mouth.
  • sunken, tearless eyes.
  • sagging in of the 'soft spot' in infants.
  • Loss of elasticity or stretchiness of the skin
Very severe dehydration may cause rapid, weak pulse fast, deep breathing, fever or fits.

Prevention and treatment of dehydration:

  • A dehydrated person should drink large amounts of liquids: water, tea, soup, etc. But do not wait for dehydration to begin.
  • Dehydration can usually be prevented if a person with diarrhea, with or without vomiting, is given plenty of liquids or Rehydration Drink from the very first. This is especially important for small children with watery stools.
  • Especially useful in the prevention and treatment of dehydration is the following Rehydration drink:
In one litre of boiled water put 2 level tablespoons of sugar or honey and 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp baking soda. If you do not have soda, use another 1/4 tsp salt.

If available, add half a cup of orange juice or a little lemon juice to the drink.

A mother can also make the Rehydration drink like this:
She can take a 4 finger scoop of sugar or jaggery and a 3 finger pinch of salt and add it to one liter of boiled and cooled water.

Give the dehydrated person sips of this drink every 5 minutes, day and night, until he begins to urinate normally. A large person needs 3 or more liters a day. A small child needs at least one liter a day.

Keep giving Rehydration drink often in small sips, even if the person is vomiting. If the dehydrated person cannot drink enough to correct the dehydration or if he vomits all he drinks, visit a doctor who can give liquid through the veins (intravenous solution).

Note: When possible, make Re hydration drink using bee's honey or jaggery rather than sugar. Honey consists partly of a simple sugar (glucose) that the body can use more easily. Even better than honey is glucose powder. Making Rehydration drink with glucose or honey is especially important if the child is very malnourished or has severe diarrhea. In some ares you can get small packages of a Rehydrated Mix containing glucose together with the right combination of different salts.

(Source: Where There is No Doctor by "David Werner")
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