Our body is made of 65% water, so staying hydrated is important to keep everything functioning properly. As adults, we lose more than 80 ounces of water daily just through daily normal activity. Elderly adults and diabetic patients are among the most at risk groups for dehydration. Dehydration is one of the most frequent causes of hospitalization after age 65. With advancing years, seniors can lose their sense of thirst and tend not to drink enough. Age slows down our metabolic rate after 35 and we need fewer calories. We are not generally as physically active as we once were, either.
Our fluid intake can be affected by medication, emotional stress, exercise, general health, and the weather. chronic health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, and may take medications can make us more susceptible to dehydration. Dehydration is caused by loss of salts and water from sweating, the Florida heat, vomiting, diarrhea and certain medications. Severe dehydration can become life threatening to the elderly or diabetics because there is no longer enough fluid in the body to carry blood to major organs. The most common signs and symptoms of dehydration include persistent fatigue, muscle weakness or cramps, headaches, dizziness, forgetfulness, sunken eyes, confusion, or an increased heart rate.
When you do not drink enough water, your body receives mixed signals on hunger. Dehydration causes you to believe you need to eat when you really need liquid intake. As a fresh start, aim to drink about half your body weight in ounces of water daily. If you weigh 130 lbs. you would aim for 65 ounces or about 4 average water bottles a day. Pace yourself throughout the day so you do not feel overwhelmed. Start in the morning with a glass of water before breakfast and any meal for the rest of the day. In between meals, keep a bottle of water with you to take sips out of every hour. It is necessary to protect joints, flush waste – especially the extra blood sugar diabetics experience.
Don’t like drinking water as much as drinking a soda? We can’t blame you on that one. Jazz up your water with a lemon slice or a mint leaf. If you miss the bubbles in soda, have sparkling water because that counts too! Or you can try calorie free Coconut Water Chocolate Flavor Drops (available at TrustedDiabetics.com) if you are missing a sugary coffee shop drink. This will add flavor without calories, sugar or carbohydrates and help you hit your water goals each day.
– David Steinberg, Pharm D.