Health
Thursday, February 22, 2007
 
Be Aware of the Danger of Dehydration
By Dr. Anthony Policastro

I frequently get calls from parents who are concerned about dehydration. People have heard the term but it is not always clear as to what it really means The meaning is relatively simple. Dehydration occurs when the amount of fluid that a person is losing is more than the amount of fluid that person takes in. It can occur at any age. However, we see it more often in infants and the elderly population. In infants dehydration occurs for one of two reasons. One of those is related to the infant losing fluids. This is true when an infant has vomiting and/or diarrhea. It also can occur when an infant does not take in enough fluids. When a child starts losing fluid, the body conserves fluid. It does this by decreasing urine output. The result is that they lose less urine. Therefore, they need a little less fluid. Unfortunately, there is a limit to how much of a urine decrease they can have. The decrease in urine output is the easiest thing for parents to measure. That is why we often ask about wet diapers in the child who is having vomiting or diarrhea. The number of wet diapers is important. The frequency of wet diapers is important. There are three categories of dehydration. The first is mild dehydration. There are very few symptoms that we can see in this form. Most of the time, the body will heal itself from this without a lot of effort on our part. The second is called moderate dehydration. This one is associated with more symptoms. The lips usually get dry. The tongue may or may not look dry. The urine output decreases. The amount of tears when crying decreases. The eyes do not appear to be as prominent as normal. The treatment for this is to give the child oral fluids. The fluids need to be taken in a greater amount than the child is losing them. For children with vomiting, this often means giving 1 tsp every five minutes. That small amount is frequently too small for the stomach to realize. Therefore, they do not vomit it back up. This allows the child to take in 2 ounces an hour. That is equal to about 32 ounces per day for the 16 hours that the child is awake. The third category is called severe dehydration. These children have dry lips and tongues. They are usually not producing much, if any, urine. They have no tears. Their eyes are sunken. They are not alert and tend to just lie around. These children usually will need intravenous fluids to improve. The best way to tell how dehydrated a child becomes is by using weights. Children will always lose weight when they lose water and become dehydrated. They will lose 3% - 5% of their body weight with mild dehydration. They will lose 5% - 8% of their body weight with moderate dehydration. They will lose more than 8% with severe dehydration. That is why it is so important to have your child weighed every time they see a doctor. If they get sick soon after that, we will know what weight they started at. Food is not related to dehydration at all. Therefore, a child who does not eat for several days will not become dehydrated. Many children who are ill with things like ear infections will develop nausea. For that reason, they do not want to eat because they are concerned about vomiting. It is not unusual to see a child refuse to eat for several days during an acute illness. As long as he/she continues taking fluids during that time, they will not become dehydrated. The most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea is an intestinal infection. These are common in young children. The most common cause of decreased fluid intake in infants is infection. Children with strep throat will stop drinking because it hurts to swallow. Children with other infections feel too ill to bother taking much fluid. Children with pneumonia breathe fast and lose water vapor from the rapid breathing. That is made worse because they do not drink due to their illness. Dehydration is less common than people think. However, it can be a serious illness. Paying attention to weights and wet diapers can be very helpful.

Dr. Anthony Policastro is medical director at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.

Alzheimer's office moving
The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter announced today that the Georgetown office is moving from 4 North Bedford St., to 109 North Bedford St. The new office is somewhat larger and includes a shared conference room. The move will be completed by March 1, 2007.

Buy a Brick Campaign
Help "pave the way to independence" for people with disabilities by participating in Easter Seals' Buy a Brick Campaign. All bricks will help construct a patio at the Easter Seals Tunnell Center, located at 22317 DuPont Blvd. in Georgetown. This wheelchair-accessible patio, featuring the Easter Seals' lily design, will help people with disabilities enjoy the outdoors. Bricks can be personalized to honor a family member, Easter Seals staff member or participant, or local business, and are tax-deductible. For more information, contact Clour at 800-677-3800 or rclour@esdel.org

Delaware Healthy Living Expo
The Delaware Healthy Living Expo, featuring an array of speakers and workshops on issues of family, physical, spiritual, financial, emotional, and intellectual wellness, will be held at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington on March 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Headlining the workshop programs will be Lisa Whaley, founder and president of Life Work Synergy, LLC. Whaley, who is also an accomplished author, will present "Finding the Off Switch in an Always On World" to give insight to attendees on finding a harmonious balance between work and life. Four additional speakers will follow addressing healing, self-sabotage, positive attitudes, and exercise. Admission to the Expo is $7. A special luncheon package is also available for $17. You may preregister online at www.lifetimeexpos.com/holisticapp.html For more information about the expo, visit www.lifetimeexpos.com or call 215-968-4593.

Order Daffodils today
The American Cancer Society's Western Sussex Unit is sponsoring its annual Daffodil Days through February 22. The daffodil is the flower of hope and by supporting the American Cancer Society you give hope to those touched by cancer. The money raised through Daffodil Days funds programs and research grants that make an incredible difference in many lives. Daffodils are offered for a donation of $10 a bunch of 10 cut flowers or $10 for a single pot of bulbs. For the second year, the American Cancer Society is offering a "Bear and a Bunch," which is an adorable Boyd's Bear plus one bunch (10 stems) of cut daffodils for $25 (limited number available). Daffodils will be delivered and/or available for pickup at Cedar Avenue Medical Associates, 1 Cedar Ave., Seaford, between Tuesday, March 13, and Friday, March 16. Call Mary Catherine Hopkins at 875-7308 or the American Cancer Society at 1-800-937-9696 for more information.

Learn home care skills
Home care aides, or those aspiring to be so, can gain the knowledge and skills necessary to care for clients in their homes through courses being offered at Delaware Tech, Owens Campus. This new 15-session program covers a variety of topics, including basic human needs, communications, normal growth and development, cultural diversity, the aging process, and working with sick people. Nutrition, special diets, mobility, safety, and home management issues will also be discussed. Completion of the course, which includes 20 hours of clinical experience through a local home health agency, can help people interested in healthcare obtain an entry-level position in the field. For complete information on course dates, times, fees, or to register, call Corporate and Community Programs at Adult CPR Class In partnership with the American Heart Association, Delmarva Christian High School will host an Adult CPR class on March 15, on the school campus. The one-night class will run from 6-9 p.m. Those successfully completing the class will receive a two-year CPR certification. Cost is $20. Registration must be made by Feb. 23. To register or to receive further information, e-mail Denise Parsons, a certified American Heart Association instructor, at dparsons@delmarvachristian.org.

Caring Volunteers Needed
Compassionate Care Hospice is looking for volunteers throughout all of Sussex County to provide support for patients and families in their time of need. A new training class will be forming and meeting March 5 and March 6 at the Milton Public Library, the basic requirements are a generous heart and lots of compassion. Numerous volunteer positions are available: visiting with hospice patients, providing telephone reassurance to caregivers, "Songs for the Soul" music therapy, office assistance and many other areas requiring your own individual talents. To register call 430-8825.

Holistic approach
Massage therapists, physical therapists, acupuncturists, as well as doctors and nurses, can learn the holistic art of zero balancing through new workshops being offered at Delaware Technical & Community College. The Owens Campus in Georgetown will offer the 50-hour program - composed of two 25-hour segments taught over four days - beginning in early March. Zero balancing is a gentle, noninvasive, hands-on therapy received clothed while lying face up on a massage table. An advanced studies program for licensed or certified healthcare professionals, the course will teach participants the skills of balancing body energy with body structure and the unique touch that allows them to harmonize that relationship. It will be taught by Olaive Jones, MA, a certified zero balancer and faculty member of the Zero Balancing Health Association. For more information, call Corporate and Community Programs at 854-6966.

Learn home care skills
Home care aides, or those aspiring to be so, can gain the knowledge and skills necessary to care for clients in their homes through courses being offered at Delaware Tech, Owens Campus. This new 15-session program covers a variety of topics, including basic human needs, communications, normal growth and development, cultural diversity, the aging process, and working with sick people. Nutrition, special diets, mobility, safety, and home management issues will also be discussed. Completion of the course, which includes 20 hours of clinical experience through a local home health agency, can help people interested in healthcare obtain an entry-level position in the field. For complete information on course dates, times, fees, or to register, call Corporate and Community Programs at

Alzheimer's office moving
The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter announced today that the Georgetown office is moving from 4 North Bedford St., to 109 North Bedford St. The new office is somewhat larger and includes a shared conference room. The move will be completed by March 1, 2007.