Camping and hiking in the great outdoors feeds the mind and cleanses the soul, but because nature often leaves us with limited resources and prolonged periods of exposure to the elements, keeping hydrated is a constant struggle. For the last blog in our series on hydration, here are some of the warning signs of dehydration and how to deal with it, even when water is scarce!
The simplest explanation for dehydration is the body begins to lose more fluids than it takes in, but this in turn leads to the loss of more than just water. When not enough water is present in the body, it tries to compensate by dumping electrolytes, potassium and sodium, all of which are crucial to a healthy body chemistry. If not replenished quickly, dehydration can escalate into a serious health problem!
Individual symptoms of dehydration are often easily dismissed as minor aches and pains; headaches, dizziness, muscle weakness or a lack of energy, and even thirst are very common. These same symptoms together however are a sure sign that a person is dehydrated. In the early stages treatments are simple: drink plenty of clear fluids (water, juice or sports drinks). It’s important to note that these fluids should not be gulped or consumed quickly but rather sipped a little at a time, as drinking too much fluid can induce vomiting.
Normally these mild cases of dehydration can be treated at home, but for severe dehydration more intense treatments are required. If a person is suffering from nausea or vomiting, ice chips or a similar item can be used in place of liquid water. Replacing fluids intravenously (otherwise known as an IV) is the only real method to treat dehydration quickly, but this should only be done by trained medical professionals.