This article has been reproduced by kind permission of The Mail on Sunday YOU Magazine.
More than half of UK households don’t own a First Aid manual. Rather shamingly, I was one of them until I received a copy of the revised 9th edition of Dorling Kindersley’s First Aid Manual, which is written by St John Ambulance, St Andrew’s First Aid and the British Red Cross. (All run first aid courses by the way.)
The book is covers everything: from how to treat an unconscious adult or child, who’s not breathing – begin CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) with chest compressions immediately, the first two minutes are vital when someone stops breathing – to today’s topic: dehydration.
It’s always vital to keep hydrated but with the weather heating up, it’s easy to forget to drink enough. People often think they’re hungry and eat, when in fact they’re thirsty and need to sip still water (not fizzy drinks!). It may seem trivial but dehydration can lead to distressing symptoms (see below), and can seriously impair physical and mental capacity. If untreated it can lead to heat exhaustion, which may need hospital treatment. And it’s easy to avoid!
Over two thirds of the body is water and on average, according to the First Aid Manual, people need 2.5 litres (four pints) of fluids daily to keep their body topped up. Dehydration is caused mainly by sweating, (although it can also be the result of severe diarrhoea and/or vomiting, drinking too much alcohol, and urinating too frequently, eg if you have diabetes). It can begin just by exercising moderately on a warm day and not drinking enough water and other fluids. The body also loses essential body salts, which can cause muscle cramps (as below).
Signs of dehydration are:
- dry mouth and dry eyes
- dry and/or cracked lips
- headaches or lightheadedness
- dizziness and confusion
- dark urine
- reduction in amount of urine passed
- cramp in the most used muscles, eg the calves
- in babies/young children, pale skin with sunken eyes; in young babies, the fontanelle (the soft spot on the head) may be sunken
The aim of first aid is to replace the lost water and salts. If someone shows any of the symptoms above, help them to sit down. Give him/her plenty of still water to sip slowly, until they recover. An oral rehydration solution [eg Boots Rehydration Treatment, £2.85 for 6 sachets], or an isotonic sports drink (eg Lucozade Sport), can help with replacing body salts (useful things to have with you in the summer).
If the person is suffering from cramp, stretch and massage the affected muscles, and advise them to rest. If possible, monitor body temperature and pulse, and if they remain unwell, seek medical advice [you can phone NHS Direct on 0845 46 47], call an ambulance or take them to the nearest hospital.
NB with recent research confirming the possibility of toxic chemicals leaching from plastic bottles left anywhere warm, it makes sense to carry water in a BPA-free water bottle (eg a stainless steel one from www.onegreenbottle.com), or glass, or a thermos.
DK is offering The First Aid Manual to YOU readers in the UK for £11.20 including free p&p (rrp £13.99). Call DK Bookshop on 0845 130 7778, quoting reference ‘FAMYOU’, or visit www.shop4online.co.uk/FAMYOU. Offer subject to availability. Allow up to 14 days for delivery.
Gel Helps You Stay On Your Toes
For tired achy feet, a friend recommends ‘Deluxe Pampered Toes’ , sturdy, flexible, gel toe separators which you slip over your toes to give ‘scrunched-up feet a lovely gentle stretch’. Run them under cold water first to help them slip on easily. Wearing for the recommended 10 minutes daily can help your feet unwind, she says, ‘and when you varnish your toe nails, to stop smudging,” adds my friend. Deluxe Pampered Toes £9.99 .
Keep Hay at Bay
With haymaking in full swing and blossoms blooming wildly, I’m super-grateful for anti-hayfever remedies. My favourite products are Eye Logic spray relief for dry eyes (you spray it on lids and it’s fine with contact lens), and a daily dose of two tablets of Aller-DMG, which contains targeted nutrients to relieve ‘hayfever, respiratory and nasal discomfort as well as skin irritation due to food and environmental pollutants’, according to the manufacturers Food Science of Vermont. Aller-DMG, £19 for 60 tablets, Eye Logic, £12.95 for 10ml spray.
Website of the week: gofolic.co.uk
Folic acid (aka vitamin B9) helps prevent birth defects like spina bifida, which develop in the first 28 days of pregnancy – before many women know they’ve conceived. So this new campaign reminds any woman who might become pregnant to take a daily dose of 400mcg (or 5mg a day for those women at greater risk of having a baby with spina bifida), and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. (Pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends Folic Acid by Lamberts, £4.60 for 100 tablets, each 400mcg.)