By Sean Murphy
We live in one of the hottest continents on the planet yet we love adventuring. Australians can’t help themselves but go trekking and camping during extreme heat and the toll it can take on the human body if we don’t hydrate ourselves appropriately can be devastating, sometimes leading to hospitalisation or even death.
It’s a no brainer that when we exercise whether it’s in the gym out the outdoors, we need to keep our hydration levels up. We lose precious water when we sweat so that fluid needs to be replaced on a regular basis. Dehydration is when the body’s cells are deprived of an adequate amount of water, which makes up 70% of the organs, muscles and tissues in the body and is crucial to many of the body’s processes.
Water makes up two-thirds of the human body, at the very least. It plays an integral part in your normal functions, such as assisting proper digestion, lubricating joints and eliminating toxins. When the water in your body is reduced, it needs to be replaced as soon as possible as an imbalance between the salts and sugar in your body can adversely affect you.
The balance of important electrolytes are compromised when the human body suffers from dehydration which means there’s an impact on your bodily functions. Our bodies are in a constant state of readjusting the balance between water losses with fluid intake. We routinely lose water when we breathe, sweat to cool the body, have a fever, vomiting, urinate or have a bowel movement. When we lose too much water, our bodies may become out of balance or dehydrated and there are some very obvious signs that present themselves.
One first sign is bad breath, though that’s hardly the first thing you are aware of when you are out in the wilderness unless it’s noted by others. Not enough saliva in the mouth, making it dry and sticky, causes bacterial over growth resulting in bad breath. Another sign is your urine gets an extra yellow colour to it. The darker the urine, the more dehydrated you are. Muscle cramps are another tell tale sign as important body parts, such as muscles and tendons, are deprived of water.
There are three levels of dehydration symptoms, mild, moderate and severe.
•Increase in thirst
•Dry and sticky mouth
•Feeling tired or sleepy
•Decreased urine output
•Urine is more yellowish than normal and has an odour
•Few or no tears when crying
•Blood pressure drops
•Rapid heart rate
•Lethargy, confusion, or coma