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Hydration for Health

Proper hydration is important for people of all ages, whether or not they live with a chronic disease like diabetes. Proper hydration can be tricky between how much is needed, how much is too much, what medications you take, whether or not you exercised today, and how much caffeine you had.

For those living with diabetes, proper hydration is important to take stress off your kidneys. When you have excess sugar in your blood, the kidneys have to work harder to filter the excess sugar. If your kidneys can’t keep up, the excess sugar will be removed from your body through your urine. You may go to the bathroom more, which can leave you dehydrated. Before diagnosis, people living with diabetes may notice an increase in urine output and may even lose weight because of it.

The general rule is for adults to drink 8 cups or 48 oz of fluids each day. Based on medical conditions and medications, some people may be recommended to drink more while others may be recommended to drink less. This is an important discussion to have with your doctor. Too much fluid can cause increased swelling and edema for people who live with conditions like congestive heart failure, kidney disease, deep vein thrombosis, and others. Individuals living with urinary tract infections, bladder infections, and cancer may be instructed to drink more fluids.

Are all fluids created equal? Water is the preferred fluid, but some other beverages work too. For those living with diabetes, they should watch their intake of sugary beverages like soda and juices, to limit the stress on their kidneys and blood sugar. Caffeinated beverages like regular coffee, some teas, energy drinks, and soda have a diuretic effect, meaning it makes you pass more urine. This can lead to dehydration.

Did you exercise today? Exercise is an important component to managing your diabetes. It’s important to hydrate before, during, and after exercise. According to the University of Michigan Physical Activity Program, you should drink fluids as follows:

  • 17 to 20 ounces of fluids at least 2 hours before exercise
  • 7 to 10 ounces of fluids for every 10—20 minutes of exercise
  • 16 to 24 ounces of fluids for each pound lost due to sweating (don’t forget to weigh yourself before you exercise)

Staying well hydrated throughout the day, rather than drinking all of your fluids in a short time period is important. Your body is constantly using water to carry out body functions including temperature regulation, waste removal, joint protection, preventing constipation, and more. Dehydration can cause unwanted symptoms and decrease our productivity.

How do you know you are dehydrated? If you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. The color of your urine can also be a hint that you’re dehydrated—urine should not be completely colorless but also not darker than straw color. You may experience lightheadedness, dizziness, dry mouth, fatigue, passing urine less frequently than normal and sunken eyes.

There are ways to make sure you get enough fluids and stay well hydrated. Some people have a large, refillable water bottle with lines that show ounces or how much they should drink by certain times of the day. Others set alarms or reminders on their phones, reminding them to drink fluids every so often. However, you remember to get fluids, make sure you get enough—your body will thank you.



Megan Craley is the Health & Wellness Coordinator for York County Area Agency On Aging. She is a leader for Living Well With Diabetes, a diabetes self-management program, offered by York County Area Agency On Aging. She is also a member of the Diabetes Coalition of York County.

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