Kids and Dehydration



When temperatures heat up, the risk of children becoming dehydrated intensifies. “Dehydration occurs when an athlete has less body fluid than they need,” says Dr. Koutures. “That can be from not getting enough fluid at the start of practice or excessive sweating or vomiting.” If your child plays sports, there are rules coaches and caregivers can enforce to keep them hydrated, healthy and in tiptop performance shape.


When dehydration sets in, “you’re going to see kids not be as energetic,” explains Koutures.

Some tell-tale thirsty signs:

  • Decreased attention
  • Stomach ache complaints
  • Vomiting
  • Dropping to one knee

Time out tip: get child in the shade, make sure they are alert, cool them down with ice packs; have them sip small amounts of fluid, if they can.


Preventing dehydration is all about preparation. “In the days before a sports practice or activity, make sure kids get plenty of fluids and water-rich fruits and veggies, like watermelon and berries,”
explains Dr. Koutures. Coaches should also keep an eye on kids who may be at higher dehydration risk, including those who may have just gotten over a cold or are overweight.

Is H20 Good Enough?

Some kids simply don’t like the taste of water. If your child won’t drink it, flavored beverages are acceptable. “My favorite recovery drink is chocolate milk,” says Dr. Koutures. “It has carbohydrates, protein, vitamin D and calcium.” For kids younger than 5, water is best, but drinks like Pedialyte are good, too.


  • Temperature of high fever and possible reaction to dehydration: 104 degrees
  • The maximum number of minutes between water breaks during practice: 15
  • Fluid recommended before sports activity: 12-18 ounces

 Learn more about CHOC’s sports medicine program

Dr. Koutures
Dr. Chris G. Koutures
Pediatric and Sports Medicine Specialist


Dr. Koutures is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Executive Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness. He operates a Pediatric and Sports Medicine practice in Anaheim Hills and also practices at CHOC. Dr. Koutures has held several U.S. Olympic appointments, including working with the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Volleyball Teams, and participating in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. He’s currently the team physician for Cal State Fullerton Athletics.

Dr. Koutures’ philosophy of care: “I strongly believe taking time to educate patients and families and communicating with other medical professionals best provides a comprehensive, patient-specific approach to managing injuries and illnesses.”

University of Wisconsin-Madison School
of Medicine

General Pediatrics and Sports Medicine

More about Dr. Koutures

This article was featured in the Orange County Register on August 27, 2013 and was written by Shaleek Wilson.

View the full feature on Kids and Dehydration

Ask the Experts – How Can I Get My 13-Year-Old Son to Take More of an Interest in his Personal Hygiene?

Chris Koutures, MD

How can I get my 13-year-old son to take more of an interest in his personal hygiene?

Answer: During the early teenage years, children have a growing sense of wanting to be independent, so finding creative ways for a boy to have “control” over his body and hygiene decisions might provide less conflict.

• Take your son to the store and let him help select his own personal hygiene products. He very well may choose stronger fragrances than most adults would tolerate – that’s OK and part of the learning process.

• Since teenagers favor sleeping in to the last possible moment before school or other early commitments, try to make the morning routine as efficient as possible. Consider allowing individual bathroom time (sharing can be distracting and a threat to that emerging independence) with key items readily accessible and not hidden in drawers or cabinets.

• Tie in better hygiene to particular teenage concerns such as acne – for example, showering right after sports or exercise may reduce blockage of skin pores and may reduce acne.

• This is one time where peer pressure may be a positive thing – often, direct comparisons with friends may motivate a young man to “improve his looks” much more than constant reminders from parents.

• When he begins to show more interest in his hygiene, appeal to his vanity by offering ample praise, even if the selected presentation isn’t your first choice.

Dr. Chris Koutures is a CHOC pediatrician and sports medicine physician. As the father of three children, and team physician for USA Volleyball and Cal State Fullerton Athletics, he uses his experiences to guide families in the care and physical health of their children.

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Celebrating the Holidays Means Celebrating Healthy Habits!

The consumption of special holiday foods combined with festive gatherings and vacation time do not have to be temporary distractions from practicing healthy habits. Dr. Chris Koutures, a pediatric and sports medicine specialist at CHOC Children’s, offers several easy ways for families to stay active during the holiday break. Dr. Koutures’ tips are a great way to promote good tidings and cheer!

• Light up your day. There are many wonderful holiday light displays around the area. Rather than drive through them, park or leave the car at home and take a stroll on foot. Walking will give you more time to appreciate the beauty and also burn a few extra calories.

• Become a mall walker. Malls and stores are more crowded this time of year, as are their parking lots. Take advantage of this – avoid the crowds looking for a closer parking spot and find those lonely spots farther away. The extra steps will be good for you! Once inside, make a plan to take the stairs, walk around or plain “window shop” for 10-15 minutes before stopping and making purchases.

• Give the gift of movement. Strongly consider gifts that involve and encourage activity.  Even video games now have more interactive components that keep kids jumping, turning and breaking a sweat.  Outdoor play toys and games are also a big hit with our consistent good weather, local parks and fields.

• “Pre-load” before a big party. Having a small meal before a big holiday party or gathering may reduce the temptation to overeat. At the party, remember sensible portion sizes (size of your fist is a good guide)and include healthy foods., Supervise younger children so they don’t have unlimited access to all the specialty holiday foods.

• Save some for later. Don’t be afraid to store away or freeze holiday candies or other sweets for later in the year. This will help reduce the risk of overeating and provide a special surprise months later, extending the good feeling of the holiday season.

• Don’t forget the “Big Five!” Make the commitment to include at least five fruits and/or vegetables a day. We are blessed in this area to have an ample selection of colorful, healthy foods that will complement the wonderful colors of the season.

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Kids and Concussions

Concussions are a common occurrence in children – especially when engaging in play or sports. If you are a parent, teacher, or coach, it’s important to keep an eye out for the signs and symptoms indicative of a concussion. Dr. Chris Koutures, Pediatric and Sports Medicine Specialist at CHOC Children’s, describes the symptoms you should look for with kids and concussions. Click here:

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