It’s no secret that summers in Alabama are hot. As the weather gets warmer, it’s sometimes hard to measure the number of fluids we lose due to heat. During this time of the year, Southern Cancer Center encourages patients to be extra aware of the threat of dehydration. While undergoing chemo, staying hydrated is so important as patients often experience vomiting and diarrhea as side effects of treatment, and these symptoms often lead to dehydration. Water is essential to keep the body functioning normally, and drinking the recommended daily intake can keep you from possible dehydration and other illnesses that might follow.
Recognizing the Signs of Dehydration
- Extreme thirst or dry mouth. This one might seem obvious, but people might not connect being thirsty as your body’s way of alerting you that you are in need of more water.
- Fatigue, headaches, and dizziness. Feeling lightheaded and tired is common with chemo treatment, but it also might mean you need to hydrate.
- Urine. As unpleasant as this one might be, it helps to examine your urine after using the restroom. If urine is dark or strong in scent it could mean you are dehydrated. Not urinating enough is also a symptom as “going number one” is your body’s way of ridding itself of waste.
- Muscle cramps. Loss of water and salt in the body can often make muscles cramp or become tight—a clear indication that your body needs water or electrolytes.
- H20. While undergoing chemotherapy treatments, drinking (and knowing!) your recommended daily intake of water is the most important step you can take to prevent becoming dehydrated. If you do not feel thirsty or dislike the taste of water, try sucking on ice. It’s also a good idea to have a water bottle with you at all times as a reminder to continuously drink throughout the day. In addition, many flavoring options are available in the form of powder packets and liquid flavor enhancements to give your H20 a tasty boost.
- Gatorade and coconut water. Both drinks are great for replacing electrolytes in the body. It’s important to note that although these beverages have health benefits, they should not substitute water completely.
- Eat water-based foods. Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake can help with dehydration since most of these foods are composed primarily of water. Fill your fridge with foods like lettuce, cucumbers, watermelon, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and grapefruit as these are all at least 90% water.
- Keep track of fluid intake. Knowing what you are ingesting will help you to become more aware of what your body needs. Keep track of how many ounces of water or other fluids you drink daily so you can fill in the gaps on days when you may be experiencing symptoms of dehydration. To make it easy on yourself, consider downloading a fitness app on your smartphone that has a water consumption feature.
While undergoing treatment, make it a priority to listen to your body. Knowing when you are experiencing dehydration and how to prevent it can save you from related illnesses and issues. Consuming the correct amount of water can protect and nourish your body in so many ways that can help alleviate unpleasant symptoms of treatment. This summer, stay conscious of your hydration intake and keep your body safe from the summer heat.