Are your kids always asking for a sports or rehydration drink before, during or after playing a soccer game, swim meet or tennis match? Do you wonder if they need it? Do you know they don’t need it, but wonder if it is actually bad for them?
There are a lot of great scientific-based sources of information available, if you care to research the topic. If not, I’ll give you the quick and dirty.
Dehydration occurs when an athlete (kid or adult) does not replace fluid lost through sweating. If there is loss greater than two percent of body weight, performance will be negatively impacted.
Hydration starts prior to an several hours before an athletic event. Suggested guidelines to help prevent dehydration:
Drink 4-8 oz of water one to two hours before activity.
Drink 4-8 oz of water 10-15 minutes before activity.
Drink 5-9 oz of water every 15-20 minutes.
Drink at least 24 ounces of water for every pound of weight lost within two hours after completion of activity.
Water is the best liquid to drink for optimal performance on and off the field/court/pool. Many sports drinks/rehydration beverages contain added sugar and calories with no nutritional value. In fact, they may exacerbate dehydration by causing GI distress (nausea/vomiting/diarrhea) . Not good if there is another game in near future!
Dehydration may become a very serious condition requiring medical attention. The following are signs your child may be dehydrated:
- Dry lips and tongue
- Sunken eyes
- Bright colored or dark urine, or urine with a strong odor
- Infrequent urination, or small volume of urine.
- Apathy or lack of energy, Irritability
- Sudden decline in performance
As a child becomes dehydrated, their heart rate increases, blood flow to the skin decreases, and body temperature can rise to dangerous levels. Heat-related illness is a potentially life-threatening medical emergency. Don’t try to treat it yourself or take the wait-and-see attitude. Seek medical help.