Dehydration in Teens

Teen athletes can sometimes become dehydrated.

Teens can become dehydrated for a variety of reasons, and often it's not difficult to treat or prevent. Ensure that your teen is aware of the warning signs of dehydration and knows how important taking prompt action is to their health. If you suspect your teen is dehydrated from being ill with a stomach bug, try to get fluids in any way you can, such as small sips of ginger ale or spoonfuls of gelatin dessert.

Symptoms of Dehydration

Talk to your teens about the warning signs of dehydration because many of the symptoms aren't readily apparent. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of dehydration include being extremely tired, having cramps or dizziness or headaches, and feelings of excessive thirst or dry mouth. In addition, a teen who is dehydrated will probably have dark and possibly cloudy looking urine.

Causes of Dehydration

Teens generally become dehydrated when they are losing more fluids than they are taking in. This can be caused by working out or playing sports outside when it's hot without drinking enough fluids, or it can be caused by being sick and not being able to retain fluids. For example, your teen might be losing fluids and be unable to keep any new fluids down because of vomiting or diarrhea. In addition, some teens become dehydrated from using laxatives and diuretics, often as a means of trying to lose weight.

Treating Dehydration

If you suspect she's dehydrated, encourage your teen to drink lots of fluids. If symptoms don't improve, call her doctor or go to an emergency room for evaluation and treatment right away. The doctor likely will check her vital signs and give her fluids, but in some cases it might be necessary to get fluids into your teen via intravenous fluids, if she is very dehydrated or sick and can't keep them down any other way, according to KidsHealth.


The Safe Kids website has some suggestions for ensuring your teen is hydrated while engaging in sports or exercise. Before the activity, your teen should drink 12 ounces of fluid. During the workout, about 9 ounces of fluid for every 20 minutes of playtime should suffice, and after the game is over, teens should sip fluid at least every 20 minutes for the first hour to help cool off. Water is the optimal fluid to drink, and tell your teen to stay away from sugary sodas or caffeinated drinks as much as possible because they actually make dehydration worse.