One of the health hazards of camping, especially in the summertime, is lack of water: dehydration. This is an often overlooked yet very serious condition that we all should remain aware of and look out for, both in ourselves and our fellow campers.
Dehydration is a medical condition that occurs when the body does not have the fluids to allow regular functioning. This is caused when the amount of liquid coming out of the body exceeds the amount taken in. If this situation persists for any significant amount of time, more than just water is depleted. Sodium and potassium supplies are also exhausted. These are important electrolytes, without which one cannot maintain normal operation.
The warning signs of dehydration start with thirst, and extend to weakness, dizziness, the sensation of dryness of the skin and disorientation. Not all of these conditions occur for everyone, and someone may well be experiencing dehydration without actually feeling thirsty. It is important to observe and be aware of any of these symptoms.
Treatment for mild forms of the condition is simple, get the person to drink fluids, possibly a drink containing electrolytes, such as a sports drink. Make sure the sufferer rests comfortably out of the sun. This will be enough to prevent mild dehydration from escalating to a more severe level.
If the symptoms have increased to low blood pressure, rapid heart rate or shock, a medical professional must be called, or the person suffering the symptoms needs to be taken to a hospital or other medical facility. If the person receives treatment in a timely manner, even the most severe cases can be treated. Usually the cure is rest and the introduction of fluids intravenously.
Especially at risk are infants, children and seniors. If you are camping with people from those age groups please be extra alert for any signs of dehydration. Any time you are outside, and especially on extremely hot days, make an effort to remind everyone to keep hydrated. While the condition is very serious, it is almost always preventable by taking the proper precautions.
Increase everyone’s enjoyment of the beauty of nature and the joys of camping by not ignoring this very common, yet very curable ailment. Drink up!