Water is the critical element in your body, and 75% of your body weight is composed of it. When the body’s water level goes down, bad things happen. In the Civil War, 80,000 soldiers on both sides perished, not from battle injuries, but from dehydration from diarrheal disease. Since we can expect to be thrown back to that era medically in a societal collapse, every prepper has to know how to recognize and treat dehydration.
What Causes Dehydration?
Dehydration occurs when the amount of water going out of our body is more than the amount of water we take in. We lose water when we breathe out humidified air, sweat, urinate, and have bowel movements. The body, through the hormones controlling the kidney, can regulate the loss of fluids from the body.
Various causes of dehydration include diarrhea, excessive vomiting, uncontrolled diabetes, burn injuries, and high fevers due to infection.
How Bad Can Dehydration Get?
The degree of dehydration depends on the percentage of the total water content that you have lost. 1% water loss activates the thirst mechanism, but still allows normal function. 2% water loss (mild dehydration) causes anxiety, loss of appetite and reduces your capacity for work.
4% water loss (moderate dehydration) adds nausea (and perhaps vomiting), fatigue, dizziness and mood swings. 6% water loss (severe dehydration) will cause loss of coordination, incoherent speech and delirium. More than this causes chemical imbalances that drinking water will no longer cure. If you reach 20% water loss, you’ll experience organ failure, coma and death.
The medic’s strategy in a collapse situation would be to identify dehydration early, when oral rehydration will fix the problem. Few of us will have the skill or supplies to give IV hydration. An excellent form of oral rehydration is diluting Gatorade half and half with water. Gatorade diluted in this fashion is essentially colored sweat, and will work well to rehydrate a dry individual. The official World Health Organization recipe for preparing oral rehydration fluid is the following: 1 tablespoon salt, 6 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 tablespoon salt substitute (for potassium) and a pinch of baking soda (for bicarbonate) per liter of water.
4 million children die every year in underdeveloped countries from dehydration due to diarrhea and other causes. If we find ourselves in a collapse situation, we will become an underdeveloped country. Identify dehydration in time, and you will be able to keep your family or survival group healthy. For more info, lsiten to DOOM and BLOOM #19,( 3/8/11).