lation in the skin, and less heat transfer from the core. This results in heatbuild-up in the core resulting in faster pulse rate and quickened breathingthat signal an insufﬁcient blood ﬂow and oxygen deﬁciency to the body’scells. The progressive symptoms of dehydration include:
Water Deﬁcit (as % of body mass)Symptoms
2%-3%thirst, headaches, general feeling of being uncomfortable,irritability, heat syncope (fainting) due to insufficient bloodflow to the brain from pooling of blood in the extremities.Treatment is to cool the person and provide fluids w/ salt,having the person lie down w/ the feet elevated to im-prove blood flow to the brain5%fatigue, weariness, sleepiness, reduced coordination (de-hydration exhaustion)6%-7%dizziness, labored breathing, skin becomes pale or bluish,walking becomes difficult8%salivation stops, speech is indistinct, mental processesbecome unreliable14%delirium and high fever, inability to walk, kidneys fail,sweating ceases, heatstroke is common, drinking is im-possible (water must be introduced intravenously, rectally,or through a stomach tube)15%Death usually occurs (in hot environments). In cold envi-ronments, a person may survive with as much as a 25%deficit.
In hot, arid environments, dehydration, sweat gland fatigue, sunburn, anddisrobing (removing clothes so the skin is exposed to the sun) all contributeto increased water deﬁcit and the physiological symptoms that accompanythis deﬁcit.
ACCLIMATION. The most important means to acclimate to hot, arid envi-ronments is to drink more water than normal. Often, much more water thanone normally would drink. An adult, on average, needs to drink as much aseight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. However, for some adults, especiallythose over 50 years of age, one’s thirst mechanism does not work as efﬁ-
DESERT ECOLOGY: THE EFFECTS ON HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY
LYLE A. BRECHT ---DRAFT 1.1---APPLIED ECOLOGY RESEARCH-- 410.963.8680 --- Monday, February 15, 2010 Page 3 of 4
In deserts, drought is more than just lack of precipitation, but results in “an ex-treme depletion of soil moisture that can last for long, uncertain periods of time.”See Bruce M. Pavlik,
The California Deserts: An Ecological Rediscovery
(Berkeley:University of California Press, 2008), 152.