Dehydration is a very real threat to your health - foreigner or local - in the hot and humid climes of Malaysia.
Located close to the equator with 90% humidity and daily temperatures year-round of between 32-36C, it is hot and wet.
Dehydration occurs when the amount of water going out from your body exceeds the amount going in. For example when there is more fluid lost from urinating and sweating and water vapour dispelled when you breathe, than there is from fluid being consumed by drinking water, you may experience mild, moderate or severe dehydration.
This is particularly useful to know if you are an expat in Malaysia and may not be accustomed to such high temperatures and humid conditions.
I've been living in Malaysia for around 9 years but I've learned to NEVER underestimate dehydration. Some of the signs that you are dehydrated may include:
- a dry mouth
- feeling thirsty
- stomach discomfort
- feeling nauseous
Now I will share my personal experience with dehydration:
On October 15th, 2012, I began to feel unwell. I hadn't drank much water in the preceding couple of days and I was beginning to feel rather nauseous. Around 7pm I was very weak and noticed my mouth had become particularly dry. It was difficult to drink water, even a little. I started vomiting, 4 times. Then the diarrhoea came along. I was becoming increasingly distressed. My body was going hot, then cold and I started shivering. My wife helped me get to the bed and that's when the scariest part of my ordeal occurred.
As I lay on the bed, I started having convulsions. It started with my hands. I couldn't stop them from shaking. My wrists bent inwards and became locked in place so tightly. The same with my fingers and thumbs. Sharp pains followed before they became completely numb. That's when I screamed out for my wife to call the ambulance. My legs soon started shaking too and were likewise starting to get very tight and slightly numb.
For a few moments, I thought I was going to die. It's funny, when confronted with the prospect of death, I actually wasn't afraid. I was in physical distress and pain which I had never before felt, but something inside of me said, "If I'm going to die . . .then let's do it!"
My wife later told me that the 2 minutes I thought it took for the ambulance to arrive was in fact 20 minutes. Whether I passed out I don't know. I vomited once more outside the ambulance while people were carrying me in my bed sheet.
Then the IV drip was inserted into my vein in the ambulance and everything suddenly changed for the better. I was no longer 'going to die', but I knew that I'd be alright. The saline drip of sodium chloride is heaven! Over the next 48 hours I would have a further SEVEN bags of sodium chloride pumped into my veins!
|Here I am in the Accident & Emergency area of HTAA Kuantan with the IV drip working its magic.|
I was diagnosed with food poisoning and severe dehydration. Spent that night in the hospital, all day on the 16th (which incidentally was my birthday!) and was discharged after lunch on the 17th.
|Here I am in my hospital bed at HTAA Kuantan|
The moral of the story is: If you're living in Malaysia or places of a similar climate, especially if you're an expat, you need to drink plenty of water daily, coupled with electrolyte drinks like 100plus, Revive or Gatorade. Dehydration can both hit quickly, and creep up almost unnoticed. Make sure you have access to clean drinking water wherever you are, and drink it regularly, even if you think you are not doing much physical exercise or sweating rapidly.
Stay happy, healthy, and hydrated in Malaysia!