Should Your Child See a Doctor?
Drinking Fluids - Decreased
Is this your child's symptom?
- Child drinks less than normal amounts of fluid
Causes For Drinking Less Fluid Than Normal
- Sore Throat. A sore throat is the most common cause. The pain is made worse by swallowing. Most sore throats are caused by a virus. Strep bacteria cause 20% of sore throats with fever.
- Mouth Ulcers. Mouth ulcers are another common cause of a painful mouth. The pain is made worse by swallowing. Most mouth ulcers are caused by a virus such as Coxsackie virus.
- Nausea. Nausea means a sick stomach feeling and loss of appetite. Also called an upset stomach, but without vomiting. Usually from a viral infection of the stomach or liver.
- Blocked Nose. A common cause in bottle or breastfed infant. Reason: If nose is clogged, the baby can't breathe while sucking.
- Trouble Breathing Serious. Shortness of breath from any lung disease can reduce fluid intake. Examples are pneumonia, wheezing or severe croup. Reason: The baby quickly gets tired from sucking and breathing at the same time.
- Foreign Body Object in the Esophagus Serious. The esophagus is the tube from the mouth to the stomach. A swallowed foreign object can become stuck here. Examples are coins or small toy parts. The main symptoms are gagging, refusal of fluids or drooling. The peak age is 1 to 3 years.
- Abscess of Tonsil Serious. A bacterial infection of the tonsil can spread to the surrounding tissues. The main symptoms are severe trouble swallowing, fever and one-sided throat pain. It's also hard to fully open the mouth. The peak age is teens.
- Dehydration. This is the health problem where the body has lost too much fluid.
When to Call for Drinking Fluids - Decreased
Call 911 Now
- Not moving or very weak
- You think your child has a life-threatening emergency
Call Doctor Now or Go to ER
- Too weak to suck or drink
- Signs of dehydration, such as:
- Has not passed urine in more than 8 hours
- Crying does not cause tears
- Very dry mouth
- Sunken soft spot
- Sleepy child
- Will not drink or drinks very little for more than 8 hours
- Will not drink and new onset of drooling
- Trouble breathing
- Your child looks or acts very sick
- You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent
Call Doctor Within 24 Hours
- Poor drinking and also has fever
- Poor drinking lasts more than 3 days
- You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent
Call Doctor During Office Hours
- You have other questions or concerns
Self Care at Home
- Drinking adequate amount of fluids and no signs of dehydration
Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations
If your child’s illness or injury is life-threating, call 911.
Care Advice for Decreased Fluid Intake
- What You Should Know About A Decreased Fluid Intake:
- Eating less solids during an illness is normal.
- Drinking less fluids is not.
- So far, your child does not have any signs of dehydration.
- Here are some tips to help increase fluid intake.
- Fluids - Offer More:
- Give your child lots of their favorite liquid.
- Use fluids like chocolate milk, fruit drinks, water or even soft drinks. The type doesn't matter. The type only matters if your child has diarrhea or starts throwing up.
- Solid Foods - Less Important:
- Don't worry about solid food intake.
- It's normal not to feel hungry or want to eat when sick.
- Preventing dehydration is the only thing that is important.
- Sore Mouth Treatment:
- If the mouth is sore, give cold drinks.
- Do not use citrus juices.
- For babies, offer fluids in a cup, spoon or syringe rather than a bottle. Reason: The nipple may increase pain.
- To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product such as Tylenol. Another choice is an ibuprofen product such as Advil. Use as needed.
- Liquid Antacid for Mouth Pain Age 1 Year and Older:
- For mouth pain, use a liquid antacid such as Mylanta or the store brand. Give 4 times per day as needed. After meals often is a good time.
- Age 1 to 6 years. Put a few drops in the mouth. Can also put it on with a cotton swab.
- Age over 6 years. Use 1 teaspoon (5 ml) as a mouth wash. Keep it on the ulcers as long as possible. Then can spit it out or swallow it.
- Caution: Do not use regular mouth washes, because they sting.
- Nasal Washes To Open a Blocked Nose:
- Use saline nose spray such as store brand to loosen up the dried mucus. If you don't have saline, you can use a few drops of tap water. If under 1 year old, use distilled water or boiled tap water.
- Step 1. Put 3 drops in each nostril. If under 1 year old, use 1 drop.
- Step 2. Blow or suction each nostril out while closing off the other nostril. Then, do the other side.
- Step 3. Repeat nose drops and blowing or suctioning until the discharge is clear.
- How Often. Do nasal washes when your child can't breathe through the nose.
- Limit. If under 1 year old, no more than 4 times per day or before every feeding.
- Saline nose drops or spray can be bought in any drugstore. No prescription is needed.
- Saline nose drops can also be made at home. Use ½ teaspoon (2 ml) of table salt. Stir the salt into 1 cup (8 ounces or 240 ml) of warm water. Use bottled water or boiled water to make saline nose drops.
- Reason for nose drops: Suction or blowing alone can't remove dried or sticky mucus. Also, babies can't nurse or drink from a bottle unless the nose is open.
- Other option: use a warm shower to loosen mucus. Breathe in the moist air, then blow each nostril.
- For young children, can also use a wet cotton swab to remove sticky mucus.
- For Shortness of Breath - Give Smaller Feedings:
- For trouble breathing, feed more often. Feed every ½ hour.
- Offer smaller amounts per feeding.
- Reason: This allows your baby to rest in between feedings.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Trouble swallowing gets worse
- Signs of dehydration occur
- Poor drinking lasts more than 3 days
- You think your child needs to be seen
- 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 to 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.
Last Reviewed: 09/01/2012
Last Revised: 09/01/2012
Copyright 1994-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.