Dehydration is very common and often individuals do not show up at the clinic and wonder why they have a headache or lightheaded. With proper hydration one is more effective at a task and safer. Many times other injuries occur due to being dehydrated. Passing out, not being coordinated and injuring a limb. Hydrate and decrease your injuries.
Dehydration can be more complicated in the field of medicine than just volume depletion. A true diagnosis of dehydration cannot be made with assessing urinalysis and serum sodium levels. We can make determinations in the outdoors that can at least help one get back on their feet and hopefully back to a vehicle to get treatment at an Emergency Room or Urgent Care setting.
Volume depletion is when the total body water ( TBW ) which is normally 50 to 60 percent of a persons weight, is lowered due to less intake than output. That output can be urine, sweat, diarrhea, and emesis.
Fever, for example, can increase depletion by 500 ml per degree of temperature. Also, there can be volume depletion by blood loss. All of this needs to be factored in when assessing dehydration ie volume depletion. In fact, it is important to know your camper or hikers medical history as well. Diabetes, autoimmune disorders and a multitude of other illnesses can factor in when assessing dehydration.
For the majority of hikers and campers in the outdoors, you will be limited in your ability to assess this. There are a few techniques that can be helpful along with good old common sense.
This will be covered more extensively in water disinfection, however, this is so important. Survive Outdoors will bring this up at various times. When lost, always drink the water. The most common organism in North America that caused diarrhea is Giardia Lambia – often called, “Beaver Fever.” It is called Beaver Fever NOT because of contamination from just beavers, but because of mammals defecating in streams and lakes. It has been isolated in stool from dogs, cats, coyotes, voles, muskrats and even birds. The incubation for Giardia is about three weeks. Drink the water. You will be found in less than three weeks more often then not and at least you will be hydrated and you can be treated when symptomatic. IT IS ESTIMATED THAT 80% OF THE WATER IN North America IS INFECTED WITH GIARDIA. THIS DOES NOT MATTER IF IT’S A RUNNING STREAM IN THE TETONS OR A PLACID LAKE IN WISCONSIN.