Most people are aware that vomiting and/or diarrhea (the worst is when they occur at the same time, and oh yes, this is possible. Apologies in advance if you were eating something) can cause significant dehydration. What’s not as well known is that water alone won’t be able to effectively rehydrate you. In this post, we will talk about effective rehydration and a few things you should have in your travel health arsenal.
Why water is not enough
It would be nice if water was all it took to cure severe dehydration, but unfortunately that is not the case. When you expel bodily fluid, you are losing water, but you are also losing sodium. Sodium helps your body hang on to water and it’s also imperative for many basic cell functions.
The sodium glucose co-transport system in the intestinal wall
When you are dealing with something like diarrhea, your intestines become incredibly efficient at expelling sodium from the body. Given sodium’s importance, you can see how quickly the problem of dehydration can be compounded if you are constantly going to the bathroom.
Simply H2O will not get the job done. You need to supplement your water intake with sodium and sugar (the sugar helps your body absorb the sodium).
Ways to properly rehydrate
If water is not enough, what options do you have?
Many people think that sports drinks like gatorade are a good option for effective rehydration. While it is true that drinks like gatorade have both sodium and sugar, often the balance is tipped too far in favor of sugar, which can lead to inefficient hydration, and in some cases, it can actually backfire.
If you are in a bind, you can put a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar in a glass of water. If you can, however, you should purchase some oral rehydration salts that have been specially formulated to have the right balance of glucose and sodium (and possibly other electrolytes and trace minerals). You can buy these at any pharmacy while you are abroad, but if you plan ahead, you can buy them before your trip.
Drip Drop oral rehydration salts
The advantage to buying oral rehydration salts ahead of time is that you can get something that actually tastes good. Many of the oral rehydration salts I have bought in developing world pharmacies have been hard to stomach because of their flavor. Recently, Drip Drop reached out to me and asked if I would sample and write about their product on the blog.
While I am no way obligated to write anything positive about Drip Drop’s oral rehydration salts, I have to say that I am a convert. Drip Drop hydration packets do everything they are supposed to with respect to rehydration, but importantly (for me at least), they also taste delicious. At the moment, I am using the lemon lime flavored packets and on more than one occasion, I have found myself making a batch even when I am not especially dehydrated.
You can check out Drip Drop products in more detail at their website here. I did receive free samples of drip drop before writing this article, but once again, I was under no obligation to write a favorable review.
In cases of severe dehydration, drip drop or other oral rehydration salts may not be able to get the job done and intravenous fluids may be needed. Hopefully, you are not ever in a situation where it gets to that point. The easiest way to avoid it is by rehydrating often, especially if you are dealing with an illness that is causing your body to expel fluids.
If you have used drip drop before or any other oral rehydration salts, please feel free to share your experience in the comments section below.