You may have heard the expression “dying of thirst” and you may have even jokingly told someone you were “dying of thirst” on a particularly hot day or after a period of strenuous exercise. But did you know that it is actually possible to die of thirst?
Feeling thirsty is your body’s own way of alerting you to the fact that you need to drink more fluids. If you ignore your body’s “thirst” signal for too long, if you lose fluids rapidly, and if you don’t take in enough water and other fluids, you can actually become dehydrated.
In fact, a 1998 survey by the Nutrition Information Center of Cornell Medical Center determined that approximately 75% of those surveyed had fluid loss resulting in chronic dehydration.
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What is Dehydration?
The human body is approximately 75% water. This amount of fluid is what the average body needs in order to function properly. When you spend time in the heat, exercise, or participate in physical activity, your body loses water through perspiration in an attempt to cool itself.
Dehydration can also be caused by diarrhea if the body loses fluids faster than they can be replenished. In a SHTF situation, disease and illness will be rampant and diarrhea can result. The loss of too much water from the body can cause serious symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and constipation.
In a survival situation, all of these symptoms can mean that you don’t have the energy you need to accomplish vital survival tasks. Dehydration can be especially serious for children, the elderly, or those who are already in poor health.
Many Americans suffer could be suffering from chronic dehydration and not even be aware of it.
Symptoms of Dehydration:
- Muscle Fatigue
- Dark Urine
- Extreme Thirst
- Short-term memory loss
- Reduced Concentration
- Bad Breath
- Dry Skin
- Food Cravings, particularly sweets
- Muscle Cramps
- Chills and Fever
- Low Urine Output
#1. Drink plenty of liquids such as water, juice, milk, or broth
The recommended amount of liquids the average active person should drink is 16 to 20 ounces within two hours prior to physical activity. When you are outside or performing physical activity, you should remember to drink at least another 8 ounces for every 15 minutes of activity.
Once you’ve completed your physical activity or come in from being outside in the heat, it’s important to replace any lost fluids as soon as possible. Drinking an additional 16 to 24 ounces is recommended.
#2. Reduce consumption of caffeinated drinks
Finding ways to minimize dehydration isn’t just about the amount of liquids you drink. In fact, if you are in the habit of drinking a cup of coffee or even entire pot everyday, you could actually being doing more harm than good.
Caffeinated drinks like cola, tea, and coffee pull water from the body which increases the likelihood that you’ll become dehydrated. One way to minimize dehydration is to reduce the amount of caffeinated beverages you drink.
Unless you’ve stockpiled these types of beverages, they may not be as readily available in a SHTF situation anyhow. Now is a great time to start weaning yourself off of caffeinated drinks by swapping them for water, juice, or sports drinks.
#3. Limit alcohol consumption
Like caffeinated beverages, alcoholic drinks pull water from the body and increase the rate of dehydration. In a survival situation or during a SHTF event, you’ll want to limit your intake of these types of beverages to not only prevent dehydration but to keep a clear head so you can deal with whatever life throws at you.
For those who have already started stockpiling alcohol, save it to use for bartering with neighbors for items you will actually help sustain you once SHTF.
#4. Consume foods high in water content such as vegetables and fruits
Another of the ways to minimize dehydration is to eat foods that are high in water content. The average adult can get up to 20% or more of the recommended water intake per day by eating foods that are high in water content. Examples of food high in water content include:
- Iceberg Lettuce
- Green Peppers
- Star Fruit
- Baby Carrots
#5. Be Cautious of High Protein Drinks or Diets
Athletes in training and those who are trying to lose weight, often consider a high protein diet or the use of high protein drinks. A study conducted of athletes in training showed that the rate of dehydration was higher for athletes on a high protein diet or those using high protein drinks.
In addition, the study showed that those athletes who were dehydrated, did not experience increased thirst and thus had missed the warning sign of dehydration. Cardiovascular performance and physical function can be negatively impacted by as little as 2% body water decrease.
If you find yourself in a survival situation where a high protein diet is needed to give you the energy boost needed to accomplish physical tasks, be certain that you drink additional fluids to keep your system hydrated.
#6. Minimize Periods of Physical Activity or Time Exposed to Hot Weather
One of the additional ways to minimize dehydration is to limit your periods of physical activity or the amount of time you spend exposed to hot weather. Doing this will slow your rate of perspiration and reduce dehydration.
#7. Know How to Treat Diarrhea
One of the things that can cause the body to dehydrate rapidly is diarrhea. To minimize dehydration when disease or illness causes diarrhea, it’s important to know how to properly treat yourself to stop the diarrhea if it lasts more than a couple days.
There are a number of medications such as Immodium designed to treat diarrhea. It’s a good idea to have these on hand when you need them. The BRAT diet of Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast and eating probiotics can also help slow diarrhea to help minimize dehydration.
One of the things that is most important to minimize dehydration is knowing the causes of dehydration and remembering to monitor your loss and replacement of fluids.
Pay attention to your rate of perspiration, your urine output and color, and other causes of fluid loss, and then use they ways to minimize dehydration above to keep it from becoming serious.
Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart.
For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared for whatever may come along. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of nine grandsons and one granddaughter, is learning everything she can about preparedness, basic survival, and self-sufficient homesteading. She is passionate about sharing that knowledge so that others can be increasingly prepared to protect their families.