Water Intake During Illness

Water intake during illness

Rehydrate When Illness Sets In

The importance of drinking water and additional fluids like soup and homemade juice while you’re sick should not be underestimated. Being sick can cause dehydration through vomiting and/or diarrhea so it’s not a good idea to bring this condition on in addition to the illness that you’re already experiencing.

When the question was asked on WebMD “Why is it important to drink liquids when you’re sick? the answer was the same, it’s easy to get dehydrated. Additionally, a fever is known to draw the moisture out of your body and the formulation of mucus is a dehydrating process as well. Cold medicine and other medications also need to be taken with lots of water, juice, or soup. Liquids help loosen the mucus so that it can come out of your nose and expel it from your chest area. Stay away from fluids that are dehydrating like liquor and coffee which has caffeine.

There is a difference between having a cold and allergies even though they have similar symptoms. Allergies can emerge quickly and can last as long as the allergen is present such as during the spring when the pollen comes out. Both a cold and allergens cause a cough, runny nose, and sneezing, but a cold can be accompanied by aches, pains, and a fever. Allergies can last longer than a cold depending on your exposure to the allergen. Regardless, keeping hydrated by drinking enough water is important with both conditions.

 

Cautions When Drinking Too Much Water During Illness

There are cautions though regarding your intake of water during illness. Although drinking plenty of fluids when you’re sick helps to flush out the toxins and clear out the infection, it can be dangerous if you drink too much fluid which can lead to hyponatremia. If a person has hyponatremia, it means that the person’s sodium level in the blood is too low. According to the information in this article, The Truth About Drinking Fluids When You’re Sick on health.com, when you drink too many fluids when you’re sick, it can lead to fatal water intoxication. Yes, drinking too many fluids can lead to serious consequences. Hypronatremia is a medical emergency if your sodium level falls below 125 mmol/L and can lead to a 30 percent chance of dying.

Endurance athletes, who work out extensively and sweat profusely may drink water for many hours to get rehydrated, is an example on the extreme end of the spectrum. For people who are not athletes, having eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is good advice and increasing that to just over eight 8-ounces glasses of water a day when you’re sick is a moderate uptake during an illness where vomiting or diarrhea occurs.

 

Onset of Dehydration Due to Vomiting and Diarrhea

In the WebMD article Preventing Dehydration When You Have Diarrhea or Vomiting, states that a long bout of diarrhea or vomiting can be dangerous. The severity of the condition can determine whether you should seek help. Severe dehydration can shut down kidney function especially when children or the elderly are experiencing these symptoms.

Take the steps to rehydrate before severe dehydration occurs to avoid these symptoms: thirst; less frequent urination; dark-yellow urine; dry skin; fatigue; light-headedness; and the inability to sweat. If you have any of these signs, it means that dehydration is advanced. Start replacing lost water by ingesting fluids and essential salts called electrolytes which will improve your electrolyte balance. This electrolyte balance often gets unbalanced during illness, especially when bouts of severe diarrhea and vomiting occur. The amount of water that needs to be ingested depends on how much water you lose during these episodes of diarrhea and vomiting. It’s important to note that drinking water as well as replacing the essential salts is crucial.

Children can especially lose a large amount of fluid during vomiting and diarrhea so monitor the situation carefully and seek medical attention if there is no improvement.

Seniors are also in this category where observation is necessary when dehydration occurs. Due to the possible inability of the elderly to balance water and sodium, there is an increased danger of becoming severely dehydrated.  WebMD recommends that if the conditions of diarrhea or vomiting lasts for more than two days, then seek medical attention.

 

Drinks to Quell Dehydration During Illness

The 7 Best Drinks for Dehydration article listed on Epicurious.com are water, electrolyte-Infused water, Pedialyte, Gatorade, homemade electrolyte drink, watermelon, and coconut water.

Water is the best drink to have when you’re ill because it’s free and readily available. If you want electrolyte-infused water, there are some available drinks like this that you can purchase. Pedialyte is good for children or adults who are ill because it is a medical-grade designed mix which includes electrolytes such as potassium, chloride, and sodium which also helps to balance and restore lost sugar. Although Gatorade is a popular drink for athletes, it is also high in sugar or high-fructose corn syrup but you can also purchase one of their drinks that has less sugar named G2.

There is the option to make your own homemade electrolyte drink where you can add sugar or maple syrup and salt to water. You can also add other ingredients that help the digestion like ginger, lime and lemon to make this homemade drink electrolyte infused. Then there is watermelon which contains a large amount of water. Watermelon contains Vitamin A, C, and electrolytes. Coconut water, although very similar to Gatorade, has less sodium and sugar. It’s just as good since it contains potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and sodium.

When you’re ill, there are many options besides water that you can drink but water is the best option because there is nothing added to it. Although, it is important to replenish your electrolytes, water can be mixed with other ingredients at home if the store bought one is not desired or if you’re too sick to go out and purchase it. The key is to stay hydrated and rehydrate when vomiting or diarrhea becomes an issue. Always seek medical advice if severe dehydration sets in and you’re unable to manage the symptoms that an illness presents.

 

LINKS AND REFERENCES

WebMD
Why is it to drink liquids when you’re sick

Preventing Dehydration When you Have Diarrhea or Vomiting

Health.com
The Truth About Drinking Fluids When You’re Sick

Epicurious.com
The 7 Best Drinks for Dehydration


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