Trenchfoot Immersion Foot

a) Definition. This is a cold - wet injury to the feet or hands from prolonged (generally 7 - 10 hours) exposure to water at temperatures above freezing.

b) Causes of Trench foot/Immersion Foot. The major risk factors are wet, cold and immobility.

c) Signs and Symptoms of Trench foot/Immersion Foot.

• The major symptom will be pain. Trench foot is an extremely painful injury.

• Trench foot and frostbite are often very difficult to tell apart just from looking at it. Often they may both be present at the same time. Signs include:

• Red and purple mottled skin.

• Severe cases may leave gangrene and blisters.

• Lowered or even absent pulse.

• Trench foot is classified from mild to severe.

d) Prevention of Trench foot/Immersion Foot is aimed simply at preventing cold, wet and immobile feet (or hands).

• Change socks at least once a day. Let your feet dry briefly during the change, and wipe out the inside of the boot. Sock changes may be required more often.

• Exercise. Constant exercising of the feet whenever the body is otherwise immobile will help the blood flow.

e) Treatment of Trench foot/Immersion Foot.

• All cases of trench foot must be evacuated. It cannot be treated effectively in the field.

• While awaiting evacuation:

The feet should be dried, warmed, and elevated.

The pain is often severe, even though the injury may appear mild; it may require medication such as morphine.

• In the rear, the healing of trench foot usually takes at least two months, and may take almost a year. Severe cases may require amputation. Trench foot is not to be taken lightly.


1. Dehydration is a deficit of total body water. Dehydration will compound the problems faced in a survival situation. Dehydration is the second leading cause of all deaths in a survival situation.

a) Symptoms. When dehydrated, the following signs and symptoms will appear:

• Headache and nausea.

• Dizziness and fainting.

• Cramps, both abdominal and extremity.

• Weakness and lethargy.

• Dark urine with a very strong odor.

b) Prevention. Prevention is the key to prevent dehydration. The following are basic guidelines for the prevention of dehydration:

• Always drink water when eating. Water is used and consumed as a part of the digestion process. If you have plenty of food but no water - Do not eat until a source of water can be found.

• Conserve energy. Pace yourself.

• Drink 6-8 quarts of water per day when available. In other words, continually drink through out the day. Don't wait until you are dehydrated.

• Monitor the color of your urine.

• Don't rely on thirst as an indicator.

2. Heat related illnesses. The following illnesses will appear from dehydration:

1. Heat syncope. Heat syncope is feinting due to vaso-dilation from the heat.

2. Heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion occurs when body salt losses and dehydration from sweating are so severe that a person can no longer maintain adequate blood pressure. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke.

a) Symptoms include; headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and fainting.

3. Heat stroke. Heat stroke is a failure of the body's cooling mechanisms that rid the body of excessive heat build up.

a) Signs and symptoms

Symptoms are the same as heat exhaustion . The signs include delirious or coma, pinpoint pupils, flushed skin, sweating may or may not be present.

b) Heat cramps. Heat cramps are painful spasms of skeletal muscle as a result of body salt.

c) All of these illnesses can be detrimental to your survival. Dress properly, rest and adequate water intake can help prevent these illnesses.


1. Acute Mountain Sickness. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a self-limiting illness due to the rapid exposure of an unacclimatized individual to high altitude (i.e., helicopter crash on a mountain). Approximately 25% of individuals who ascend rapidly to 8,000 - 9,000 feet will develop AMS. Virtually, all un-acclimatized persons who rapidly ascend to 11,00 - 12,000 feet will develop AMS.

(a) Signs and symptoms include; apathy, dizziness, easily fatigued, nausea, decreased appetite, headache. Can be misdiagnosed as dehydration. If adequate fluid intake is maintained and headache still persists rule out dehydration.

2. HACE. HACE or High Altitude Cerebral Edema is swelling of the brain

(a) Sign and symptoms are similar to AMS and accompanied by bizarre behavior, hallucinations, confusion, and severe cases - coma.

3. HAPE. High Altitude Pulmonary Edema is the filling of the lungs with fluid.

(a) Signs and symptoms include; persistent cough with pink frothy sputum, shortness of breath, disorientation, fainting, cool and clammy skin, blue lips

(1) Treatment Descend, Descend, and Descend. HACE and HAPE can result in death.

(2) Prevention Gain elevation slowly. 10,000 feet move 1000 feet per day over 14,000 move no faster than 500 - 1,000 feet per day. Rest and acclimatize your body.

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  • ADAM
    Why would severe cases of trench foot require amputation?
    8 years ago

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