Aug 9, 2012 Post By: Children's Health

Dehydration Can Sneak up on Athletes
Before they head back for fall sports practices, make sure your young athletes know how to stay hydrated. Children's Health experts share tips.

Remind your athlete to stay hydrated.

Remind your athlete to stay hydrated.

Sprints. Laps. Marching band drill-downs. These are a few activities that your football players, cheerleaders, marching band players and other fall athletes are concentrating on as they prepare for fall sports. In August. Outside. Under the boiling hot sun. One thing they’re probably not concentrating on? Hydration. Most teenagers prioritize it about as much as cleaning their rooms. But as a parent, you’re concerned by the stories about athletes collapsing on the field from dehydration and heat stroke and want to make sure your athlete takes precautions to avoid this from happening. Here is some advice from the experts at Children's Health.

Hydration Routine

  • Begin drinking water one hour before exercising.
  • Drink 1 ounce of water for every 10 pounds of body weight.
  • For really tough practices, also drink 0.6 ounces for every 10 pounds of body weight in 20-minute intervals during exercise. A few examples:
    • A 120-pound athlete should drink 7 ounces every 20 minutes during exercise
    • A 150-pound athlete should drink 9 ounces
    • A 180-pound athlete should drink 11 ounces
    • A 210-pound athlete should drink 13 ounces

Sports Drinks or Water

Sports drinks, juices and even sodas do provide some degree of hydration. Still, water is generally best because it lacks the calories and additives found in other drinks. However, if you expect to exercise for an hour or longer, sports drinks are better because they replace electrolytes that are lost as an athlete sweats.

Dehydration: Know the Signs

Even mild dehydration can affect an athlete's performance and cause fatigue. Here are some signs of moderate or severe dehydration. Make sure you — and your child’s coach — are aware of them. Your children should also recognize these in case they, or a teammate, become overheated.

  • Dark urine
  • Dry lips and mouth
  • Decrease in reaction time
  • Decrease in physical performance
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Apathy
  • Disorientation

If your young athlete notices any of these signs, he should rest and drink water or sports drinks. If the symptoms persist, take your child to a doctor. Disorientation, inability to drink or pale skin may mean your child has a serious condition that should be treated as a medical emergency. Please share this information with your athlete!