In many parts of the world, in fact anywhere they appear, hot springs are enjoyed for reasons stretching from relaxation to health to a spiritual significance. The warmth generated, along with the minerals present, do have a notable effect, but what exactly are the benefits of these natural wonders?
Another well documented use of these springs is pain relief, brought about by a number of different factors. The heat and minerals play a large role in relieving pain and fibromyalgia fatigue. This is further aided simply by the water’s buoyancy, which takes the stress off your muscles and joints, allowing for more freedom of movement. For those suffering from chronic pain, hot springs can be a welcome reprieve.
It’s thought that, in the US alone, around 75% of people aren’t taking in as much water as they should be. Thirst is fairly easy to ignore on a basic level, and with so many of us spending our working days hurling coffee down our gizzards before going out and doing the same thing with alcohol (both diuretics), it’s hardly surprising.
Dehydration starts out as a mild, manageable sensation, but if it’s allowed to progress unchecked, it can cross over into dangerous, and then life threatening. It’s difficult to assess how many people are killed by dehydration each year, as it has so many different circumstantial influences. Suffice to say, it’s far more common in poorer parts of the world, but it certainly also happens in the UK and US. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to it.
How does dehydration actually play out, though? Well, it happens in six stages. The first stages are manageable, but certainly ignorable, as they can potentially phase into something far more severe. During the earlier part you’ll likely only be lacking 1 or 2% of your typical body water, but when it gets severe you might be down by as much as 10%.
1 – Thirst
Yes, this is the more obvious sign that you might need a drink. We’ve all been thirsty, it’s not a pleasant feeling, your throat dries, your mouth is coated with thick, sticky saliva, your swallow feels harder and you get worn out.
It’s easy enough to explain – your body is telling you that you need a drink, your lips are dry, so you salivate, your throat is sore because there’s less fluid to lubricate it and you’re tired because you’re lacking for the mineral energy which fluids provide. It’s that simple, really, you can ignore it, but it’s always better to just go and get a drink, no matter how chronically lazy you might be.
2 – Fatigue
This is the stage when you’ll start feeling genuinely unwell. Along with the increasing weariness, you’ll probably be contending with a nasty headache, along with an inability to focus on anything properly. If it advances further still, you’ll feel yourself break out in a cold sweat, and you’ll notice that your urine is a darker shade than before.
These are all signs that the dehydration has crossed over into more serious territory. The dark urine is the most obvious sign, the body has less water to expel, as well as use. The headache is caused your brain actually shrinking back from your skull, which in turn triggers the pain receptors. Once again, getting water into your body is the most effective solution here, but it’s after this that things start to become more complicated.
3 – Dizziness, Dry Skin
Usually this is the stage when people realise there is something really, seriously wrong. At this point the dizziness will become much more pronounced, and you’ll also start to become lightheaded. More alarmingly, you’ll find that, if you do start crying from fatigue, panic or both, you won’t be able to actually shed any tears.
The other thing which happens at this stage is what could potentially lead to permanent bodily damage – your skin dries out. If you’re unsure if this has happened, pinch your skin, if it doesn’t quickly reform once you let go, bad sign. This could cause permanent wrinkles if left unchecked for too long. At this point, water won’t do the job quickly enough, you need either an isotonic drink or fruit squash with a pinch of salt mixed in.
4 – Sunken Eyes
If the dehydration has been allowed to progress this far, you’ll barely be able to stand. Your eyes will darken as they draw back into their sockets and your nagging headache will have crossed over into sheer agony. Remember the cold sweats which started earlier? Well, you’ve also now lost a great deal of electrolytes through the sweating, which leads to further, greater issues.
Electrolytes control the transit of electrical signals moving up your nervous system to your brain. You may start to feel your stomach cramping up, the onset of nausea and when it gets really bad you may either vomit or experience diarrhoea, which is a big problem if you’re already so dangerously low on body fluid. Now you need to think about taking some kind of electrolyte supplement or rehydration sachet to deal with this.
5 – Low Blood Pressure
That’s it; you’ve dipped below 10% body fluid deficiency. I shouldn’t have to tell you why this is cause for very serious concern. At this point, there’s so little fluid in your body that your blood is even turning against you, leeching fluid from parts of your body that it really ought not to be. This, in turn, lowers your blood pressure, which will make your heart start pounding in your ribcage.
You will also likely start to tremor, and feel feverish. This is classed as severe dehydration, and it is a medical emergency. If you start to feel like this, call an ambulance, but in the meantime doctors recommend an ice lolly, as it will slowly release fluid (and sugar) back into your system. If you drink anything, you’ll puke it back up.
6 – Concentrated or No Urine
If you’ve hit this stage, you’ve gone through every warning sign and countermeasure your body could possibly take against dehydration, and you’re in very real danger of ending up dead. At this point, there’s so little water in your body that you either won’t be able to pee, or your urine will come out as a kind of concentrated, disgusting goop. As if that wasn’t enough, your blood pressure will have gone through the floor, which could easily cause you to pass out, and will also almost certainly induce a state of delirium.
Your electrolyte levels will also be dangerously low, and the salt levels in your blood will be dangerously high. This can lead to severe neuromuscular failure, seizures, oedema, coma and ultimately a very painful and undignified death. If you hit this stage, you won’t be able to eat or drink anything, you’ll need to be treated intravenously, seek medical attention as quickly as you possibly can, and try not to move.
We’ve all heard the term ‘water cooler talk’, referring to office natter, and the installation of water coolers in office buildings or any other kind of commercial building is a logical undertaking, people need to drink. There’s a secondary benefit to it though – supposedly having a watercooler in your office can actually boost staff productivity.
|Img source: BorgandOverstrom.com|
What is it exactly that makes the Dead Sea ‘dead’? Anyone who travels to Jordan or Israel will likely have the coast earmarked as a place to visit, so that they can try their hand at floating effortlessly on the surface. It holds the record as Earth’s lowest elevation on land, and it’s 9.6 times as salty as the ocean’s average, and the subsequent lack of life is what gives it its name.