What We'll Cover
There are many people who cannot get enough of the great outdoors, and they might never go inside unless they have to. It’s important for these people to make sure that they avoid dehydration. Dehydration is one of the most common reasons why people have to go to the emergency room; as a result, dehydration can cause them to spend a long time in the hospital. To avoid dehydration, it is important to know the signs and understand the basics of hydration.
Dehydration Starts Before Symptoms Are Noticed
One of the biggest challenges of dehydration is that it can develop quickly and suddenly. Often, dehydration sets in before any symptoms are noticed. To prevent this from happening, it is important to:
- Drink water before thirst sets in. If someone feels thirsty, they are already behind.
- Water is a great place to start; however, electrolytes need to be replaced as well.
- Try to drink water before entering the outdoors.
- Pay attention to the temperature, and be smart about the amount of time spent outside.
Because dehydration can creep up on someone, it is important to be prepared. Drink water and other liquids before going outside. Once outside, bring a camping water bottle, a hydration pack, or a water storage container, and try to drink regularly.
Heart Rate Changes First
One of the first signs of dehydration is a rising heart rate. The heart’s job is to pump blood and nutrients to the rest of the body, including liquids. If the body starts to feel dehydrated, the overall blood volume is going to drop. The result is an increased demand for liquid and other nutrients throughout the body’s tissues. To meet these demands, the heart is going to pump more quickly. Because people are already physically active outside, the heart is already pumping quickly. Therefore, this symptom often goes unnoticed.
Muscle Cramps are Next
If the body continues to dehydrate itself unchecked, muscle cramps are going to set in next. In order for the body’s muscle fibers to work properly, they need to have the right electrolytes. Common electrolytes include sodium, potassium, and chloride. As the body gets dehydrated, these ions start to disappear. Without these ions, the muscle fibers are not going to respond to commands. As a result, people will feel their muscles start to cramp up. This can be treated by properly rehydrating and stretching the muscle fibers slowly. Make sure to bring along a canteen for water on your next outdoor adventure.
Dizziness and Fainting Can Occur
If dehydration continues, people are going to start to feel dizzy. Some people might feel like the room is spinning, while others may feel lightheaded. This happens because not enough blood is reaching the brain, causing people to have trouble seeing clearly. If not enough blood is reaching the brain, someone will eventually pass out. Gravity acts to pull blood out of the brain, and the body needs to pump against this force. When someone falls over, gravity is no longer pulling blood away from the central nervous system. As a result, when people fall over, they quickly wake up. Of course, it is better to avoid this situation altogether and remain hydrated.
Hydration is Critical in the Outdoors
Hydration is an essential part of spending time outside. These are only a few of the many signs of dehydration. If dehydration progresses unchecked, it is easy to fall behind. Stay on top of hydration by drinking water and sports drinks prior to feeling thirsty, and always remember to bring enough water with you when heading to the outdoors or bring the tools to purify the water you find naturally.