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Nurse’s Corner: Stay in the Know About H2O

By Daryl Blewett, MSN, RN, CRRN, and Bonnie Tillman, BSN, RN, CRRN

Often, we do not think about water until we feel like we ran a marathon and have an unquenchable thirst. What happens next? We chug a few glasses of water as if it’s the last time we may ever see water again.

There are many excuses we use as to why we do not drink enough water. We have all said them:

  • “I just don’t have enough time.”
  • “I just don’t like the taste of water.”
  • “I’m not thirsty.”
  • “It’s hard drinking the recommended amount of water each day.”

Did you know that when we are thirsty, it is our body telling us it is dehydrated? Waiting for our body to tell us when we are thirsty only increases the chances of having severe dehydration. We need to drink water before that happens.

Why Is Hydration So Important?

Every cell of our body uses water. It is essential for our body to function at an optimal level. Water helps transport oxygen and nutrients to the brain and acts as a cushion and lubricant for our brain tissue. When we are dehydrated, Staying focused is more difficult, and our short-term memory functions are impaired, as well as recall for our long-term memory. Clearly, staying hydrated is critical for supporting our brain function.

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

Our body gives us signs if we are dehydrated. Watch for:

  • Increased thirst                      
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling drowsy or tired
  • Decreased urine output
  • Darker urine  (more yellow)
  • Dry skin
  • Dizziness

How to Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated means drinking plenty of water each day. Many health professionals and national experts recommend that we drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water (or about 2 liters) each day. Your water intake may include milk, juice and herbal teas, which are composed mostly of water. Even caffeinated drinks — such as coffee and soda — can contribute to your daily water intake. However, water is your best bet because it is calorie-free, inexpensive and readily available. The foods you eat can also help you meet your fluid needs. Many fruits and vegetables, such as leafy greens and watermelon, are almost 100 percent water.

Everyone, including our loved ones with brain injuries, needs to drink enough water to support our bodies. After all, our bodies are made up of 55 percent (female) to 60 percent (male) water, with some organs and tissues being up to 90 percent water. So, what is the moral of this story? Drink, drink, drink.