Illness in the Wild

Discussion in 'Wilderness and Tactical Healthcare Management' started by Guillermo, Dec 4, 2020.

  1. Guillermo

    Guillermo Member

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    I would say that most on this forum (especially watching this thread) love to disappear into the wild for many reasons. Some for the enjoyment of nature; Some for exercise; Some for the need for isolation and escape from societal stresses. Regardless, we leave an environment surrounded by people and their things to trek into the empty wilderness. While we may feel alone, there is the possibility we unknowingly take a friend(s) along - Viruses and Bacteria.

    Suppose if you will, you are in the wilderness and miles from humanity and its effects when you fall ill. I see on this thread much about trauma and how to deal with it as this is a prominent and immediate concern. But suppose you suffer a systematic response to infection of a viral or bacterial nature? What steps would you take to address this? Would you just attempt to address it in camp, or try to ruck it out?

    I have seen many list their FAK equipment and most are quite thorough. Many list medications such as Immodium (loperamide) for diarrhea, or ibuprofen for some anti-inflammatory protection, but what happens after taking them? Loperamide is not always the best solution and can at time worsen the illness. NSAIDs like ibuprofen work for symptomatic relief, but do not address the direct cause of the illness. @DYSPHORIC JOY previously posted an excellent article with certain medicinal plants and the anti-inflammatory effects, but even these take preparation.

    I am just wondering about your thought processes on the matter as I am certain many of you have thought this scenario through. At what point do you make the decision to call SAR, or leave under your own power? What are your contingencies?
     
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  2. C99c

    C99c Member

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    My general rule is that if I'm not experiencing a lot of pain, dizziness, etc, I'm not in a situation where I could become dangerously dehydrated AND (most importantly) I'm not in charge of the safety of others then I let stomach issues and such play out.

    I've been doing that since high school and it has only nearly gotten me in trouble once.

    If others are in my care or I can't just hang out and let things sort themselves out then I'll pop meds and head towards somewhere that help will, at the very least, be easier to get.
     
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  3. Guillermo

    Guillermo Member

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    I think that is a very good point about the consideration of others' safety. That's precisely my fear especially when I have my kids with me in the woods.
     
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  4. skx013

    skx013 Member

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    Not quite answering your question, but I highly recommend a Wilderness First Aid/WFR type course. One of the biggest mindset changes it taught me is recognizing scenarios when you should immediately consider evacuating vs. trying to tough it out. Most of us are so conditioned to there being an ER 10 minutes away, that we often think “eh, If I don’t stop vomiting in day or two, if i continue seeing blood in my stool/urine, if this rigidity in my abdomen is still there tonight, if this dizziness doesn't go away by tonight, if my peripheral vision doesn’t come back by the time I wake up tomorrow, etc . . . “

    I defer to the SAR guys on this, but in my experience, a major risk we all face is pushing forward with a seemingly moderate symptom of something that can get much worse 12 hours later. Had we recognized its seriousness even 8 hours earlier we could have gotten back to civilization in time to prevent dire medical issue in the backcountry.
     
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  5. Sink or swim

    Sink or swim Member

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    Meine erste Regel für eine längere Reise in den Wald ist, zu Hause zu bleiben, wenn youre not well.
     
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  6. Strigidae

    Strigidae Administrator Staff Member

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    "My first rule for a longer trip to the forest is to stay at home when youre not well."

    Google translate for the win?
     
  7. Sink or swim

    Sink or swim Member

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    [QUOTE = "Strigidae, Post: 208083, Mitglied: 99"] "Meine erste Regel für eine längere Reise in den Wald ist, zu Hause zu bleiben, wenn es dir nicht gut geht."

    Google übersetzen für den Gewinn? [/ QUOTE]
    Zustimmen
     
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  8. Guillermo

    Guillermo Member

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    Actually, you hit to the crux of my post. I wanted to post something to make people think about just such a thing. We have become so readily accustomed to having access to care at our finger tips we neglect to go through the proverbial thought experiment of "What If". We take it for granted that we will always have access. I have seen this playout in my professional career.

    Outside of trauma, medical concern in the wilderness would be dehydration, S.I.R.S., and eventual sepsis. Most instances will travel down this algorithmic pathway, however, it would be a skill anyone could learn to recognize these signs of progressing and worsening diseases. What happens when disease hits so rapidly debilitatingly that we can't leave? What is available to us? Do we learn to keep other items such as antibiotics in our kits? Do we prepare remedies, salves, and/or tinctures of calendula or chamomile available? I know in some cultures bee propolis is used often as an antibiotic, however, I have found no scientific studies of quality evidence indicating this as a viable option (I would be interested as I am also a hobby beekeeper).

    These are just things I think we should consider more closely and prepare for.
     
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