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Dehydration Risk in the Military: Why ORS Should Be Included In Every Rucksack

Due to the physical demands of their work, soldiers are at a heightened risk for dehydration and heat illness. According to Army Times, 1,700 soldiers were treated for heat illness in 2010, including more than 200 cases of heat stroke.

Dehydration is a common cause of heat illness because fluids help the body regulate temperature. Therefore, dehydration prevention is one of the most effective methods to stop heat illness in the military.

Yet, water isn’t enough to hydrate a soldier. They often carry 80-pound rucksacks in 100+ degree heat. And they don’t have the luxury to stop, cool down and recover.

In these extreme conditions, soldiers sweat out vital fluids and essential electrolytes at a very rapid pace. Thus, during a training session or combat maneuver in heat, dehydration can set in quickly, setting off a swift rise in body temperature.

Performance Declines As Dehydration Progresses

Impaired performance is a direct consequence of dehydration. For instance, at 2-percent dehydration, which is signaled by the feeling of thirst, physical and mental performance begins to deteriorate.

And the symptoms only get worse. Research has shown that 5-percent dehydration – which causes symptoms like fatigue, headaches and nausea – is similar to having a .10 blood-alcohol level. Then, at 10 percent and beyond, or severe dehydration, symptoms include muscle spasms, confusion and heat stroke.

Mild dehydration impairs performance in training or combat, including delayed reaction time. But from there, it can affect the entire squad – for example, if the squad must stop for an IV to be administered – or the entire battalion – when the condition requires a medical evacuation.

Why Water, Sports Drinks and IVs Aren’t the Best Solution

Water, IVs and sports drinks all have disadvantages for soldiers. Water lacks electrolytes, like salt and potassium, that are lost quickly though sweat in extreme climates. Water that includes electrolytes is a much better solution. Sports drinks contain electrolytes, but not a medically relevant amount, and are therefore only minimally effective.

In severe cases, IVs are often used, but they are difficult to administer in combat situations, pose infection risks, and they require a medic to be on hand. Plus, IVs are a heavy addition in a medic’s pack.

Drip Drop ORS is the Best Hydrator For Soldiers

Oral rehydration solutions like Drip Drop can be extremely useful in military settings. But Drip Drop has a distinct advantage – Drip Drop tastes much better than traditional ORS -- and this leads to greater compliance. Due to the pleasant taste, soldiers will drink Drip Drop before dehydration has a chance to progress.

But Drip Drop’s advantages over traditional hydration methods don’t end there:

  • Drip Drop rehydrates 35 percent better than water, so adding Drip Drop to a soldier’s canteen multiples its effectiveness. A soldier can drink less water fortified with Drip Drop, but achieve greater hydration.
  • Oral rehydration solutions like Drip Drop are as effective, if not more, than IVs, according to several studies – eliminating the need for invasive, costly and time-intensive battlefield IVs.
  • Drip Drop is shelf-stable and extremely portable, which makes it a convenient and cost-effective addition to every pack.
  • And Drip Drop is self-administered – a soldier can begin treatment for dehydration immediately.
 Image via Flickr.

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