Hydrate Yourself!

Written by Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC

Last week, one of my patients went to the hospital with tremors, headache, fatigue, urinary symptoms, and severe constipation. And do you know what the main diagnosis was? Dehydration!

While it's often the very old and the very young who become more easily dehydrated, individuals of any age can become dehydrated, and those with diabetes have to be especially careful in this regard. 

As many diabetics know, when blood glucose levels rise, the kidneys will respond by increasing urine production and output in order to decrease the amount of glucose in the blood. This is all well and good, but if that fluid is not being rapidly replaced, dehydration will result. And as fluid levels in the body drop and the blood is less dilute, the body will then begin to pull fluid from the cells in order to quench the system's thirst. This is an evil cycle that will spiral into physiological mayhem more quickly than you think. 

With dehydration, urine also becomes more concentrated in the bladder, and the risk of a urinary tract infection increases as the ultra-concentrated urine sits in the bladder without being excreted. 

Meanwhile, as systemic fluid levels plummet and your body's thirst for fluids increases, another thing that occurs is that you develop dangerous imbalances of electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and others. These are important for cardiac function, the actions of your muscles, and many other important bodily function. Thus your entire system can go haywire in a cascade of symptoms and problems. 

Once you're dehydrated enough, the only way to rehydrate sufficiently is to place you on IV fluids that slowly but surely rehydrate the cells and tissues, reconstitute your blood, and bring your electrolytes into balance once again. 

Symptoms of dehydration may include dry mouth, weakness, lightheadedness, sweating, muscular cramps, concentrated and dark urine, and much, much more. 

So, stay hydrated, drink those fluids, keep things stable, and maintain your fluid levels in the interest of wellness and health.