EMS Beat: Hydration

By Albee Bockman, AEMT-P


This time of year can run havoc with our bodies – – if we don’t hydrate!

The human body is made up of approximately 70% water. So it makes perfect sense that fluids are vital for the majority of our bodily functions. When the loss of body fluids – – mostly water – – exceeds the amount that is taken in, that is called DEHYDRATION. With dehydration, more fluid is moving out of the cells and bodies than what we take in through drinking. And what occurs can be most devastating. So please read, heed, and listen, Hurleyville!

We lose water every day in the form of water vapor in the breath we exhale and in our excreted sweat, urine, and stool. Along with the water, small amounts of salt are also lost. When we lose too much water, our bodies may become “out of balance” or DEHYDRATED. Not to alarm you, but dehydration can lead to death.

Many conditions may cause rapid and continued fluid losses and lead to dehydration.

One very common cause is heat exposure during the elevated temperatures of the summer.

We all look forward to the warmth this time of year especially after the winter we just experienced. Sure glad that is over with! However, exposing ourselves to the outdoors working on the garden, mowing the lawn, exercising can dehydrate our body in a short period of time. Sometimes, it can creep up on you before you have the chance to recognize the trouble you might be in. So avoid injuries to the skin such as a sunburn and infections. Consuming WATER is your best defense against dehydration. Before any above average activity during the warmth of summer, be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after activities.

Another condition that leads to a loss of fluids is when we get sick. Contracting a fever contributes considerably. Ever notice how dizzy, lightheaded, and weak we feel? That is an early sign of dehydration. If we complicate the illness with vomiting, diarrhea, and infection, the loss of fluids accelerates.

The signs and symptoms of dehydration range from minor to severe. Increased thirst, dry mouth, and generalized weakness are some of the minor signs and symptoms you could experience. But when confusion, lethargy, and fainting occurs, then it becomes an emergent situation and requires the response of Paramedics to introduce intravenous fluids to stabilize you hemodynamically. One sure sign is the color of urine. If one’s urine is concentrated and deeply yellow or amber, you may be dehydrated.

In summation, dehydration is a serious matter. Younger children and older people are more susceptible to this condition. So please be prepared, cautious, and alert!

Enjoy the summer, Hurleyville!