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Drinking Fluids - Decreased  
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Does this describe your child's symptoms?

Definition
  • Child drinks less than normal amounts of fluid

Causes

  • Main cause: Sore mouth or throat.  See MOUTH ULCERS or SORE THROAT after using this topic to check for dehydration.
  • Common cause in infants: Blocked nose in bottle or breastfed infant (Reason: can't breathe while sucking). See COLDS after using this topic.
  • Common cause: Nausea from viral stomach infection without vomiting.
  • Difficulty breathing with bronchiolitis or croup. (Reason: not enough energy to both suck and breathe)

Complication

  • Dehydration

If not, see these topics

When to Call Your Doctor

Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If
  • Not moving or very weak
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • Signs of dehydration, such as:
    • Has not urinated in over 8 hours
    • Crying produces no tears
    • Very dry mouth (rather than moist)
    • Sunken soft spot
    • Excessively sleepy child
  • Too weak to suck or drink
  • Refuses to drink anything for over 12 hours (8 hours if under 12 months old)
  • Refuses to drink and new onset of drooling
  • Could have swallowed a foreign body
  • Wheezing or stridor with breathing
  • Difficulty breathing not better after you clean out the nose
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Unexplained difficulty drinking and also has fever
  • Poor drinking present over 3 days
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
  • You have other questions or concerns
Parent Care at Home If
  • Drinking adequate amounts of fluid AND no signs of dehydration and you don't think your child needs to be seen
HOME CARE ADVICE FOR DECREASED FLUID INTAKE

  1. Increase Fluid Intake: Give your child unlimited amounts of her favorite liquid (e.g., chocolate milk, fruit drinks, Kool-Aid, soft drinks, water). The type doesn't matter, since your child doesn't have diarrhea or vomiting.
  2. Solid Foods: Don't worry about solid food intake. It's normal for the appetite to fall off during illness. Preventing dehydration is the only important issue.
  3. For Sore Mouth:  
    • If the mouth is sore, give cold drinks.
    • Avoid citrus juices.
    • For infants, offer fluids in a cup, spoon or syringe rather than a bottle (Reason: The nipple may increase pain).  
    • Older child can use 1 teaspoon of a liquid antacid as a mouthwash 4 times per day after meals.  
    • Give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen for pain relief.
  4. For a Blocked Nose: Suction it out using warm water or saline nosedrops in infants and toddlers. Make saline nosedrops by adding ½ teaspoon of table salt to 1 cup (8 oz.) of warm water.
  5. For Shortness of Breath: For mild bronchiolitis or difficult breathing, offer small frequent (every ½ hour) feedings so the infant can rest briefly between them.
  6. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Difficulty swallowing becomes worse
    • Signs of dehydration
    • Poor drinking present over 3 days
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 1/19/2009

Last Revised: 8/5/2007

Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Online

Copyright 1994-2009 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

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