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Which is Worse, Diarrhea or Dehydration?

I saw an episode of Survivorman where he drank water knowing it was contaminated and would cause him to have diarrhea. He said that having diarrhea would be better than being dehydrated. Would you agree?

Question:

I saw an episode of Survivorman where he drank water knowing it was contaminated and would cause him to have diarrhea. He said that having diarrhea would be better than being dehydrated. Would you agree?

Submitted by - -Pete, Sunnyvale, CA

Answer:

In this business, you’ve asked a question sort of like the chicken and the egg question. Which is worse: diarrhea or dehydration? Since we know dehydration will eventually do you in for good, most people, including me, think it’s better to drink bad water than dehydrate.

Many waterborne diarrheas are self-limiting, and theoretically you should live longer with diarrhea (as long as you keep drinking the bad water) than with dehydration. But if you have a container, let the bad water sit for a while. Some germs will settle via gravity, making the water at the top of the container a bit safer.

—Buck

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