Do you Drink Enough Water?

by MichelleR on April 9, 2012

Do you Drink Enough Water?

As we enter the warmer part of the year, it is more important than ever to drink enough fluids. More than half the human body is made up of water which carries nutrients to the cells, flushes wastes from the cells and regulates body temperature. Water is important because it prevents dehydration, reduces stress on the kidneys and helps maintain regular bowel functions. Not drinking enough fluids can cause unwanted symptoms, complications from existing disease conditions and may account for many hospitalizations of our elders.

An adequate amount of daily water intake is by far the most important of all dietary requirements for the body and is essential to life. A person may live for several weeks without food but can only survive a few days without water. This is because our bodies are 55-75% water and we lose about 10 cups of water each day through sweating, going to the bathroom and breathing. The amount of water we lose each day increases when our body temperature is higher.

Elders are at risk for dehydration for many reasons such as; age, disease, environmental and types of medication. There is less water in the older body which causes greater difficulty for the older kidney to maintain fluid balance and less thirst sensations in elderly.  

Disease-related reasons for dehydration range from the complex to the simple.  Infections such as pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and urinary tract infections increase the need for fluids due to fevers and the overproduction of mucus. Some diseases, such as congestive heart failure, renal disease, stroke or diabetes, can cause changes in the function of various hormones that regulate the fluid balance in the body. Other reasons for dehydration come from prolonged vomiting or diarrhea, over-aggressive diuretic therapy and poor compliance to medication regimens.

Lack of hydration also comes from a decrease in mobility for those with arthritis, diminished vision or being confined to bed rest. Those with diminished appetite or reluctance to bother others for something as simple as assistance in getting a sip of water are definitely at risk. People who are on diuretics, (water pills) often do not like to drink water because they feel it makes them have to use the bathroom more frequently. However not drinking enough fluids will send a feedback message to retain fluids. This makes the condition being treated even worse. Diuretics are often used to treat cardiovascular problems.

Certain medications such as tranquilizers, anticonvulsants, behavioral health medication or some headache and pain medication cause dehydration. Diuretics, sedatives and laxatives are common and require close attention to fluid intake. Other drugs and alcohol can cause the kidneys to work harder, and may damage them, making it harder to maintain fluid balance.

Below is an easy to follow check list to prevent dehydration:

Increased fluid intake is required for people who:

          Experience heavy perspiration

          Uses tranquilizers, anticonvulsants or some behavioral health medication

          Experience heavy drooling

          Experience urinary tract infections – kidney and bladder

Dehydration signs and symptoms:  

          Dry skin; around the mouth, lips and mucous membranes

          Less skin flexibility / elasticity

          Dark, concentrated urine with decreased urination

          Less/absent sweating

          Leads to electrolyte imbalance, delirium, even death if untreated

To encourage an individual to drink fluids:

          Have water within reach, encourage intake

          Use other fluids as well such as shakes, fruit drinks, soups, puddings and gelatins

          Avoid caffeine and sugar in fluids, if possible since caffeine and sugar are dehydrating to the body. If you drink a lot of coffee, cola and other similar liquids you need to drink more water than the average person

How to make Water Fun:

1.      Benefits of a Water filter!  

Having a water filter pre-installed in your fridge, on the faucet or as a fill-up water-jug for your fridge is a great way to keep cool and hydrated. Not only are water filters great tasting, better for your health but also a benefits the environment. A water filter reduces common impurities found in tap water. The carbon component of the filter reduces chlorine and lead, whereas the ion exchange resin reduces metals, such as copper, cadmium, mercury and zinc.

The water filter benefits the environment by cutting back on plastic water bottles. One water pitcher with a filter can effectively replace as many as 300 standard 16.9-ounce bottles. On average a water pitcher filters 240 gallons of water a year for about 19 cents a day. For the same amount of water from bottled water would require 1,818 16.9-ounce water bottles a year. (For more information and facts about water filters visit http://www.brita.com/)

2.      Carbonate it!

Home and kitchen product companies, such as Bed, Bath and Beyond and Williams Sonoma are selling products to make your own sparkling water at home. This is a great way to water down juice. The Times reports that it is not only equally hydrating as flat water but that it can also keep calcium locked in the bones. Making your own sparkling water is much healthier than buying Club Soda because of the amount of sodium added to recreate the taste of homemade seltzer. Carbonated water is also great for an upset stomach.

 

by C.Jamieson

 

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