The Problem: When the water we use or lose each day, through normal body functions (urination, defecation and sweating) is not replaced dehydration results. Dehydration severely reduces the body’s ability to function efficiently which frequently results in poor decision making and accidents occurring. The loss of one to two quarts of water, from a starting water level of about twenty quarts in the body, can result in a significant reduction in working efficiency.
Altitude – The air we breathe contains less humidity as we travel higher — dry air has to be humidified before it reaches the lungs.
Many of the fluids (coffee, tea, alcohol and colas) we drink daily contain diuretics, chemicals that cause us to lose even more water.
Increased activity increases water loss by sweating.
Injury and illness, especially diarrhea, can increase water loss.
Mouth breathing increases water loss.
|Signs and Symptoms|
|Headaches||Nausea and vomiting||Fatigue|
|Infrequent urination||Yellow urine||Increased pulse rate|
|Loss of balance|
|Catch it early and re-hydrate using diluted sports drinks or water with a little sugar and salt added. (1/4 teaspoon salt and 4 teaspoons sugar per liter of water.)|
|Severe dehydration will require intravenous fluid therapy — usually not available in the back country!|
|Increase the amount of water you drink each day — three to four quarts is good – more is better|
|Don’t breath through your mouth|
Note: Dehydration is a contributing factor in many other medical problems that occur in the outdoors. It is also a significant factor in determining how successfully the body can keep itself warm — a dehydrated person will have a much more difficult time staying warm than a hydrated one.
Boiling – Bringing water to a rolling boil is sufficient to kill all harmful organisms
Halogens – Chemicals such as iodine and chlorine kill microorganisms.
Filtration – Filters remove all harmful agents except viruses.
Purifiers – remove all harmful agents including viruses.
“TREATING DEHYDRATION IS MUCH MORE DIFFICULT THAN PREVENTING IT AND MAY BE IMPOSSIBLE IN THE OUTDOORS”