There are a number of disorders of the endocrine system that includes the adrenal glands, parathyroid gland, pituitary gland, thyroid gland, as well as the ovaries, pancreas and testes. Sometimes, infants and children have a medical emergency that presents with infection or kidney failure, and is underlying endocrine problem.

Common fluid imbalances that lead to hospitalization

Electrolytes are minerals, such as sodium, calcium, potassium, chlorine, phosphate, magnesium, in the body that have an electric charge. They are found in the blood, urine and body fluids and are affected by the level of water in the body. If too hydrated or dehydrated, from medications, vomiting and diarrhea, sweating or a kidney problem, an imbalance may occur that affects the blood chemistry, muscle action and other processes.

Children are sometimes hospitalized after an illness with a high fever, vomiting and diarrhea where these minerals, glucose or acid levels become out of balance:

  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Glucose imbalance
  • Acid-base disturbance

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)

One common condition in children in which glucose or sugar is not in balance, is diabetes. More than 50 percent of children with diabetes present with a condition called diabetes ketoacidosis or DKA before they are diagnosed as diabetic—a condition in which the pancreas stops making the insulin that the body needs as in Type 1 or cannot use the insulin the right way as in Type 2 diabetes. Without insulin, the child’s body cannot absorb sugar, needed to produce energy. The symptoms of diabetes in children can come on quickly over several weeks:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Weakness in the legs
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Increased appetite
  • Confusion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fruity smelling breath
  • Yeast infection

Learn more about diabetic ketoacidosis from KidsHealth

Fluid imbalance

Electrolytes are minerals such as sodium, calcium, potassium, chlorine, phosphate, magnesium in the body that have an electric charge. They are found in the blood, urine and body fluids and are affected by the level of water in the body. If too hydrated or dehydrated, from medications, vomiting and diarrhea, sweating or a kidney problem, an imbalance may occur that affects the blood chemistry, muscle action and other processes.

Children are sometimes hospitalized after an illness with a high fever, vomiting and diarrhea where these minerals become out of balance.


If your child is experiencing illness or injury contact your Main Line Health pediatrician. A dedicated pediatric emergency room and inpatient unit is located at Bryn Mawr Hospital. Emergency rooms are also located at Lankenau Medical Center, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.