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Water – it’s what we’re made of

Being hydrated doesn’t just affect your health, it also affects your decision-making capabilities?2 If we don’t drink enough, it can lead to headaches, constipation, tiredness and more serious problems such as
urinary infections and kidney disease.

Water – it’s what
we’re made of

Being hydrated doesn’t just affect your health, it also affects your decision-making capabilities?2 If we don’t drink enough, it can lead to headaches, constipation, tiredness and more serious problems such as urinary infections and kidney disease.

Stay hydrated; stay healthy

It’s time we all took hydration seriously

Water carries nutrients and waste products between our major organs, helps regulate body temperature and lubricates our joints.

In desperate situations, humans can go for more than three weeks3 without food, but water is a different story. Every living cell in the body needs water to function.

Our bodies are constantly losing water – when we sweat, go to the toilet and even when we exhale. This is why we need to drink plenty of water to stay healthy.

Am I at risk of dehydration?

Anyone can become dehydrated, but some of us are at more risk than others,such as:

• Babies and infants
• Older people
• People with long-term health conditions
• Athletes

Elderly people in particular are at a greater risk of dehydration. The thirst sensation decreases with age and using multiple drugs and medicines can also affect water balance, which means older people may become dehydrated more easily.5

How much should I be drinking?

A good rule is to drink enough fluid so that you’re not thirsty for long periods, and to increase fluid intake when exercising or during hot weather. Passing clear urine is a good sign that you are well hydrated.

You should drink plenty of fluid if you have symptoms of dehydration, such as feeling thirsty and lightheaded, orpassing dark-coloured urine. It is also important to replace fluid lost after an episode of diarrhoea.4

Recommended daily fluid intake

The European Food Safety Authority recommends a daily intake of 2.5 litres for men and 2.0 litres for women of which 70-80% should come from fluids and 20-30% from food.5

Malnutrition and dehydration affects more than 3 million people at any one time7

Costs the NHS over
£19.6 billion annually8

With improved identification and treatment, is the third highest potential cost saving to the NHS7

Malnutrition and dehydration

For most of us, keeping hydrated is as easy as remembering to drink plenty of liquid. However, people with dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) may be struggling to come close to their daily-recommended intakes.

It is estimated that 8% of the country lives with dysphagia – a condition which describes any difficulty or pain in eating, drinking or swallowing.6

Dysphagia could be a side effect of a condition such as stroke, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, learning disability, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, head and neck injury or cancer. Dysphagia patients are particularly at risk of becoming dehydrated.

If you are having difficulty swallowing and think you may have dysphagia, you should visit your GP as soon as possible.

For further information about dysphagia and how to care for people affected by it click here or visit www.dysphagia.org.uk

“The link between nutrition
and hydration and a
person’s health is a
fundamental part of any
stage of life, but all the
more so for the sick or
vulnerable.”

Jane Cummings,
Chief Nursing Officer for England7

Become a Hydration Angel

We are piloting a scheme of volunteers who are able to go into hospitals and/or care homes, and encourage those in need to drink as much as they should be.

If you can spare an hour or two a week and think this is something you may be able to do, then please click the link and enter your details to register your interest. You will be contacted by a member of the Hydration Angels team and hopefully join us to help hydrate the nation and make a dramatic difference to peoples’ care.

References