Often holidaymakers feel unwell on holiday without very specific symptoms and just write it off as “too much sun”.
However, dehydration can easily set in on a holiday to the sun if holidaymakers forget that they need to replace fluids lost through sweating and the exertions of walking or other activities in hot weather.
Sweating is simply fluid evaporating from the surface of the skin in the heat – the more you sweat, the more you need to replace that fluid. Sweating helps keep the body cool – and in very hot weather and if you are active, 2-3 litres of fluid may be lost through sweating as the body tries to cool down.
Vital salts are also lost through sweating – which is why rehydration therapies also involve treatments to replace these.
The body is a delicately balanced mechanism and too much water and salt can be as dangerous as too little.
Keeping the body constantly hydrated is key – and on holiday, drinking regularly can help keep you feeling well and help avoid painful urinary infections like cystitis, which can develop if the kidneys and urinary tract are not flushed out regularly.
In hotter holiday destinations like Egypt, where temperature can rise to 40°C and over all year round, the usual recommendation is to drink between one-and-a-half or two litres of mineral water per day.
In very hot weather, signs of dehydration include feeling lethargic, dizzy or confused – or simply just feeling off colour and not able to concentrate. Headaches can also be a symptom of dehydration – and ignoring any feelings of thirst in hot weather, especially if you are out and about on an excursion or involved in sports activities, is asking for trouble.
Top tips for keeping hydrated on holiday include:
- Keep a litre bottle of water in your room – buy one every day and drink it.
- Take a litre bottle to the pool or beach and also on excursions – you can also pop a 500ml bottle in your bag or pocket to carry round and keep the litre bottle ready on the coach for when you return from sightseeing.
- If you develop holiday tummy, increase fluid intake as you will lose fluid through sickness and diarrhoea, as well as sweating if you have a fever. Extreme bouts of gastroenteritis with violent episodes of diarrhoea can require rehydration therapy, so seek medical help if you feel faint, confused or drowsy – or have a severe headache with these symptoms
- Alcohol can hamper rehydration, so drink water with your meals as well as wine or beer.
- A quick way to test for dehydration is to pinch the skin on the back of your hand – this should spring back almost instantly, so if it remains puckered, reach for the bottled mineral water quickly.
- If you have any feelings of illness and realise you have not had a drink of water for a while, buy a bottle as soon as possible and try and take a break in a cool, shady place until you feel better.
Dehydration can lead to loss of consciousness and also can require hospital treatment. In some cases it can be fatal – you wouldn’t run a car without water, so don’t leave your own radiator empty.
If you have recently suffered illness whilst abroad and it wasn’t your fault, and down to the hotel, then you could make an illness or sickness on holiday claim.