All too often, I see oncology patients who are not properly hydrated. This can cause complications.
We know that having a malignancy increases the risk of blood clots, and side effects from chemotherapy can include constipation and skin issues. One simple solution I offer daily to oncology patients is good hydration! It is inexpensive (tap water works great) and doesn't always have to be boring. Any liquid that is non-caffeinated and non-sugary will count as good hydration for the body.
Just the other day, I was talking with a patient facing lung cancer, and I asked her, "So, do you drink plenty of water each day to keep your body well hydrated?" She beamed a big smile and said, "Yes! I do! I drink two bottles of water per day. And I also have orange juice, tea, and a diet soda."
Well, I had to break it to her gently that her two bottles of waters were not enough. And the other liquids she drinks are caffeinated and contain sugar, causing a mild diuretic effect on the body. We had a mini patient education session about the right amount of hydration: at least 64 ounces of water per day.
Water can help in these ways in the body:
- Fights constipation (more water in the body and ultimately stool will help combat constipation)
- Helps to condition the skin, hair, and nails
- Can possibly aid in fighting the development of blood clots
- Flushes out chemotherapy from the body quicker
- Helps normalize hemoglobin to hematocrit ratio
- Prevents dehydration and its side effects: fatigue, headache, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, and/or low blood pressure
Of course, I practice what I preach. I have done so for years. And once you get a routine down, it is easy to drink 64 ounces of hydrating fluid. Yes, it means more trips to the restroom, but that's a small inconvenience compared to the possible side effects and complications from dehydration.