Editor’s Note: In hot weather, it’s important not to get dehydrated. Severe dehydration becomes a matter of life and death. Tammy Mahan passes along these helpful tips. Think survival. – John
About 75 percent of your body is made up of water. The water you take in helps to keep your body water content at about 75%. The water is stored in and around your cells and is essential for the body to function properly. Water leaves the body when you sweat and urinate. If you do not put enough water (fluid) back into your body, and the water percentage becomes too low, dehydration occurs. If dehydration goes untreated, it can lead to coma and death.
Severe dehydration is a serious medical emergency. You will know when you are severely dehydrated if you start to experience the symptoms listed below.
- Little to no urination (any urination will be a dark yellow or amber in color)
- Extreme thirst
- Dry skin, mucous membranes, mouth
- Irritability and confusion
- Shriveled dry skin that has no elasticity (doesn’t bounce back when pinched)
- Rapid breathing
- Low Blood Pressure
- Rapid pulse
- No tears
- Sunken eyes
- Delirium or unconsciousness
Children and Infants
Children and infants can experience all of the symptoms listed above in addition to:
- Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in children and infants
- In infants, sunken fontanels (the baby’s the soft spots on the top of a baby’s head will become sunken)
Infant, children and elderly people need to be treated with caution. If the dehydration is severe enough they may also experience some or all of the following symptoms.
- Bloody stool
- Severe diarrhea
- Can’t keep fluids down
- Extreme sleepiness, irritability, disorientated
If you have access to a doctor or emergency room, get the person help immediately.
In a situation where you cannot get any type of emergency help, the following suggestion may help.
The Mayo Clinic has a recipe for an oral rehydration solution that it recommends in an emergency situation where a pre-formulated solution is unavailable.
“Mix 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 liter (about 1 quart) of safe drinking water. Be careful in your measurements because incorrect amounts can make the solution less effective or even harmful. If possible, have someone else check your measurements for accuracy.
If the victim is vomiting, the Mayo Clinic recommends giving small amounts of the solution at frequent intervals.
If you don’t have the equipment necessary to give IV fluids and the person is in shock, unconscious or severely dehydrated, there is still a way to administer fluids in a hurry. It can be done rectally.
However, this method will obviously not work if the cause of the problem is severe diarrhea. To administer rectal hydration, place the victim on his side with the buttocks raised on two pillows. A lubricated plastic tube with a blunt end (a large urinary catheter or naso gastric tube is ideal) should be passed through the anus into the rectum to a depth of about 9 inches. It should pass with minimal pressure and should not be forced so as to avoid perforating the bowel.
Tape the tube to the skin. A longer piece of tubing and a drip bag or funnel should be attached to the end and elevated. Slowly drip 200 mls. of fluid over a period of 15 to 20 minutes. The catheter should then be clamped. This can be repeated every four hours with another 200 mls. Up to 1000-1,200, mls per 24-hour time frame can be administered this way. If 200 mls is tolerated well, the volume can be increased slightly or the time between intervals can be reduced to three or three and a half hours.
If overflow occurs, the volume should be reduced. A rectum full of feces does not absorb water very well, so the amounts may need to be reduced, but given more frequently.”
This information is provided by the Mayo Clinic.
Information for this article has been excerpted from How to Survive the Collapse of Civilization, by Bob Livingston.
Tammy Mahan is a published author, living in New York. She has 20 years of experience in the healthcare field and enjoys sharing her knowledge with everyone by writing for Healthline.com .
Find excellent guidance on becoming rehydrated in Chapter 8 of Rational Preparedness.