The Importance of Hydration
"Obey your thirst," the Sprite soft drink commercial demands. They’ve got the right idea, but in reality, avoiding your thirst altogether would be even better. Thirst signals that you are dehydrated, and even mild dehydration can sap your energy and turn a fun hike into an ordeal.
Dehydration happens when your body does not have enough water as a result of heavy sweating, hard exercise, or sickness. It is especially likely to occur if you are hiking in hot weather and direct sunlight, though any time you are exercising hard and sweating a lot, you risk becoming dehydrated.Preventing Dehydration
It is a lot easier to stay hydrated than to reverse dehydration, because if you are sweating heavily and become dehydrated, you may be losing water faster than your body can absorb the liquid you drink. In order to prevent dehydration, which can cause life-threatening shock in severe cases, it is vital to replenish both the water and the electrolytes (salts) that your body loses through sweat.
The medical Website WebMD cites thirst as an important early indicator of dehydration, along with dark yellow or brown urine. For mild or moderate dehydration, additional symptoms include:
Severe dehydration can be very serious if a person begins to go into shock. Severely dehydrated people may be anxious; confused; faint or sleepy; have a weak, rapid pulse; and cold clammy or hot dry skin. They may even lose consciousness.Treatment
When treating mild or moderate dehydration, slowly try to replace lost fluids while halting further loss of fluid from the body.
For severe dehydration, get emergency treatment.
Photo: Kevin D. Talbot