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August 17, 1918


Author Affiliations

Major, M. R. C., U. S. Army CAMP LEE, PETERSBURG, VA.

JAMA. 1918;71(7):503-505. doi:10.1001/jama.1918.02600330001001

In combating serious diseases, besides the specific effects of the invading micro-organisms, we have to deal with three very important conditions, dehydration, intoxication (from retention of waste products) and nitrogen starvation. The picture is a very complex one, and I shall not attempt to analyze and disentangle all the component signs and symptoms.

It seems to me that dehydration is the least appreciated and therefore the most potent for evil. Three fifths of the body weight is water. A man will succumb to the deprivation of water in a few days, while he can survive the deprivation of food for forty days or more. Water is needed to maintain the volume of the blood necessary for the mechanical efficiency of the circulatory apparatus, to carry nourishment to the cells, to carry away in solution the waste products of metabolism, and to maintain the proper solutions and osmotic conditions essential to