Prevention and Treatment of Dehydration

Prevention and Treatment of Dehydration



This posts discusses the prevention and treatment of dehydration. Dehydration occurs when the body loses too much fluid, mostly water. Left unchecked it can be life-threatening.

Featured Image: Hiking in the heat is a common cause of dehydration.

I spend most of my time in tropical countries, and when I explore I love to walk. Even when it is stupid hot I prefer to walk. Thankfully, I have never been dehydrated to a dangerous level (except once in the army). It’s because I follow these guidelines on the prevention and treatment of dehydration.

Note: The information in this post has been sourced from Sam Fury’s book Wilderness and Travel Medicine.

Causes of Dehydration for Travelers

The two most common causes of dehydration for travelers are:

  1. Not drinking enough water when it is hot and/or before/during/after physical exertion.
  2. Not re-hydrating after being ill, e.g., travelers diarrhoea.

Symptoms of Dehydration

There are three stages to dehydration.

Mild Dehydration

Occurs when 2% of a person’s water content is lost.

  • Anxiety.
  • Darker urine.
  • Decreased work efficiency.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Increased rate of pulse and/or respiration.
Moderate Dehydration

Occurs when 4% of a person’s water content is lost.

As well as the symptoms of mild dehydration, the patient will also experience:

  • Decreased blood pressure.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Mood swings.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
Severe Dehydration

Occurs when 6% of a person’s water content is lost.

As well as the symptoms of mild and moderate dehydration, the patient will also experience:

  • Loss of coordination.
  • Decreased skin turgor (when the skin is pulled up for a few seconds and does not return to its original state).
  • Incoherence.
  • Minimal or no urine output.
  • Further decline of vitals.

Prevention and Treatment of Dehydration

Like most things in life, the earlier you take action to fix the problem the easier it will be.

A general rule I use is if my pee is not clear I drink a glass or two of water, and if I start to get a headache, I drink three or four.

For more extreme cases you need to use a re-hydration plan.

Re-hydration Plan

Get your hands on some oral re-hydration solution. This can be bought commercially or made by combining 6 teaspoons sugar, 0.5 teaspoon salt and 1 liter of drinkable water.

Every 24 hours intake between 50 to 200ml of the solution for every kg of body-weight. As an example, if you weight 100kg, you should drink between 5 and 20 litres of the oral re-hydration solution every 24 hours.

Do not take more than 1 litre of liquid per hour. It is more than the stomach can absorb.

If you are helping a de-hydrated person and they are so far gone that they are unable to swallow then an IV is needed. Get to a hospital!

Discover more about keeping healthy while traveling with Sam Fury’s book Wilderness and Travel Medicine.




Got anything to add about the prevention and treatment of dehydration? Share your thoughts/questions in the comments 😀 .

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