Our bodies need water to survive. Since over half the body is made up of water, its no wonder we need it so much. One of the easiest and most dangerous medical conditions that can occur after a disaster is dehydration. Water may not be as readily available, or you may be so focused on other tasks that you are not mindful of how much you are (or are not) drinking. Fortunately, dehydration is also very easy to prevent. Here is some basic information about dehydration, how it presents, and how you can avoid it.
What is Dehydration?
First, its important to know what dehydration is. Basically, dehydration happens when your body does not have enough fluid. Our bodies are constantly losing fluids, but they have to be replaced. Dehydration can be brought on by not taking enough water in, meaning you arent drinking as much as you need. You can also become dehydrated when your body loses fluids that arent replaced quickly. This can happen when you sweat, when you have a fever or other illness, or even by hormone shifts. You can also get dehydrated by taking some medications, or by certain diets. While anyone can have some health issues from being dehydrated, it is more serious for older people or for children.
Why It’s Dangerous
Dehydration is concerning for many reasons. It can cause your body to have to work harder to keep things running smoothly. When you dont have enough fluids you can run into all sorts of health issues. Signs of mild dehydration can be as simple as a headache, or dry mouth. You might find you are not going to the bathroom as often to urinate, or you could be constipated. Early symptoms of dehydration could also be leg cramps, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, or even impaired or foggy thinking.
Signs of severe dehydration would include the above symptoms, but would also progress into more serious issues like really dry skin that has no elasticity, severe headache or dizziness, the eyes will be sunken in, and rapid breathing or heart rate. A person with severe dehydration will probably be urinating very little or not at all, and what urine they do produce will be very concentrated and dark in color. Often if severe dehydration sets in, a person will need medical attention and perhaps IV fluids if it is very serious.
What to Do If You Are Dehydrated
If you suspect dehydration in yourself or in someone in your family, there are immediate steps you can take to reverse it. First, start drinking water. The easiest way to keep water consumption steady is to carry around a water bottle and constantly sip from it. Taking in water is going to start helping, but you will also need to be vigilant about consuming foods that have a high water content, like fruits and vegetables. Its another way to get fluids into your body. If the person is losing fluids from vomiting or diarrhea, you should be extra cautious to help them keep fluids down. You should also make a point to drink plenty of water before, during, and after any type of strenuous work or exercise, like chopping wood, working in the garden, or going for a jog or walk. All of these things are good for you but will deplete the body of water quickly, too.
Prevent Dehydration in Emergencies
Make sure to have at least one gallon of water per person in your house, per day. This is a good rule of thumb that most emergency preparedness experts recommend. Ideally, you should have enough to last everyone a couple of weeks. You should also invest in anti-nausea medications and anti-diarrhea medications and put them in your kit as well. These will be valuable allies in your toolbox should you need them. Dehydration doesnt have to be something that strikes fear in you. It does, however, need to be a priority when stocking your emergency supplies.
Have you started stockpiling water for emergencies?