Friday, September 24, 2021

How to Avert Dehydration

by Derek Benoit June 30th, 2021

Activity level, temperature, relative humidity, and a host of other factors affect how fast you lose fluids.

This is a hydration guide for anyone that spends any amount of time in the outdoors. Dehydration is a serious risk for all of us, especially those who are very young, older, or those with chronic illnesses. Therefore summer scouting, intense offshore fishing, hot days on the lake, and demanding western hunts all increase the need for awareness. Such pursuits are the obviously risky activities, but there are many lesser known ones. Surprisingly, dehydration can be a serious problem in the winter time, so be aware! Dry air evaporates sweat more quickly so you won’t notice how much fluid you lose. With cooler temperatures, people drink lesser amounts of fluid (Mana Medical, 2021).

Just being alive is dehydrating. Consequently, breathing, sweating, peeing, and other body functions are all sources of fluid loss. Additionally, diet and, of course, high temperatures also affect fluid retention (Mana Medical, 2021).  

Common Causes of Dehydration

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Excessive urination
  • Fever
  • Failing to drink enough fluids (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2019, Melone and O’Neil, 2020)

Dehydration Symptoms in Adults

  • Thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Noticeably decreased urine output
  • Darker or amber colored urine; clear or light yellow urine OK
  • Headache
  • Chills-less fluid on board translates to less ability to hold heat;
  • The body also limits blood flow to the skin-you feel cooler
  • Cramping-Loss of sodium and potassium via sweat
  • Confusion or dizziness-feeling like passing out
  • (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2019, Melone & O’Neil, 2020)

Risk Factors for Adults

  • Working or exercising in hot or humid conditions
  • Already being sick- one tends to eat and drink less
  • Aging-the body is less able to hold fluids
  • Any cognitive impairment, like dementia-inability to communicate
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Use of diuretic medications (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2019)
  • History or ostomy or related procedures*

*I had ulcers that destroyed areas of my large and small intestines. As a consequence, I required a bowel resection and ileostomy procedures. Dehydration is a major concern as a result of losing a large section of large bowel/colon since one function of the colon is reabsorption of water and electrolytes from waste. The stoma (the poop vent)  is placed above the colon at the ileum. Therefore the large bowel is prevented from from doing it’s fluid-balancing job (Schiller, 2020).

Dehydration Symptoms in Children or Infants

  • Lack of tears when crying
  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • No peeing/wet diapers for 3 hours or more
  • Eyes and cheeks appear sunken, face may be gaunt
  • Soft spot on top of skull sunken
  • Lack of energy
  • Irritability (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2019)

Risk Factors in Young Children or Infants

  • Being out in hot or humid conditions
  • Higher ratio of surface area to volume
  • Fluid loss from fever/vomiting/diarrhea
  • Lose more fluids from burns
  • Too young to communicate
  • Any cognitive impairment
  • Too young to obtain fluids (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2019)

Complications of Dehydration

  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Acute renal failure
  • Seizures
  • Hypovolemic shock** (Groenevelde, 2015, Mayo Clinic Staff, 2019)

**Hypovolemic shock is a drop in blood volume. Thus blood pressure also drops as a result of of fluid loss. Consequently oxygen delivery to vital organs is compromised. This can cause acute organ failure (Groenevelde, 2015, Mayo Clinic Staff, 2019)


Groenevelde, A.B.J. (July 3rd, 2015). Critical Care Medicine-Hypovolemic Shock.

Schiller, Donald, MD. (February 6th, 2020). Managing the Risk of Dehydration with an Ileostomy.

Mana Medical Associates (no author). (2021). What You Should Know About Winter Dehydration. Mana.

Mayo Clinic Staff (no author). (September 19th, 2019). Patient Care & Health Information. Diseases & Conditions. Dehydration-Symptoms and Causes. Mayo Clinic.

Melone, Linda, and O’Neil, Maggie. (updated June 17th, 2020). 13 Dehydration Symptoms Everyone Should Know, According to Experts. Mind & Body. Health.

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