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Man drinking water while sitting in the bush

Well hydrated hiking

When you’re out hiking, dehydration can hit quickly and can make otherwise healthy people dangerously unwell. The elderly and the young are at the highest risk of dehydration, but all of us need to stay hydrated. To ensure you’re well hydrated before setting off hiking drink plenty of water and never hike when you’re hungover. Also, make sure to drink water regularly throughout your hike, and avoid alcoholic and caffeinated drinks. Dehydration can also occur in windy conditions, which makes sweat evaporate more quickly.

The first signs of dehydration include feeling thirsty, having a dry mouth or lips, headache, light-headedness and having darker urine than normal. Watch out for these signs as an indication that you need to up your water intake. Severe dehydration can cause extreme thirstiness, crankiness, drowsiness, the feeling that you are breathing very quickly, a fast heart rate, faintness and a lack of urine.

Not treating dehydration can have serious, even deadly, consequences. Your body is approximately 50 – 75 per cent water and not having enough of it affects a lot of body functions. Dehydration can lead to other heat related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can occur rapidly and can be fatal.

When you are hiking, and you or someone you are with is severely dehydrated, then the best thing to do is to find shade, ensure they drink regular amounts of water and seek medical treatment immediately. If you’re hiking in an area with mobile phone access, call 000.

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