When to Go to the ER for Toddler Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when the body does not get all of the fluid that it needs to operate properly. According to the Babycenter website, babies and children are more susceptible to this condition. Your toddler can develop dehydration if he has a fever, sweats profusely, vomits or experiences chronic diarrhea. Because dehydration can be deadly, you must understand when to take your toddler to the emergency room.

A toddler lies in his father's lap with his eyes closed in the waiting room of an hospital ER. (Image: jarenwicklund/iStock/Getty Images)


Go to the emergency room if your toddler is dehydrated and acts lethargic. This doesn't just mean she is tired, a lethargic toddler is in an almost coma-like state where she does not speak to you, does not respond when you touch her and is inactive. A lethargic child appears limp, does not walk or move and is too sick to even cry or fuss.

Little to No Body Fluid

If your toddler is severely dehydrated, his body exhibits little or no fluid. He drinks infrequently or does not drink at all. His lips appear chapped and the inside of his mouth is sticky and dry with no apparent saliva. When a dehydrated toddler cries, his eyes remain dry with no development of tears. He may go without urinating or wetting a diaper for as long as 18 hours.

Skin Changes

Seek immediate medical attention if your child is dehydrated and her skin begins to exhibit signs such as extreme paleness of the hands, eye linings, lips, palms of the hands, feet, the inside of her mouth, fingernails and tongue. It may also affect just one single body part or limb. Her skin might appear splotchy. In addition, the skin around her eyes might look sunken in.

Rapid Heart Rate

Severe dehydration can trigger a dangerously fast heart beat, preventing your child's body from getting all of the blood it needs to work correctly. If your toddler's heart beats more than 110 beats per minute, he is experiencing a rapid heart beat. This can be difficult to determine unless you actually put your ear to your toddler's chest and notice his rapid pulse. Additional symptoms of rapid heart beat include shortness of breath, dizziness, weakness, light-headedness, sleepiness and fainting.

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