Here at New Hope Unlimited, one life-threatening issue that our medical experts always discuss with cancer patients is dehydration. Its most basic definition is the excessive loss of body fluids, which decreases blood flow and disables vital organs from functioning properly.
Vomiting and diarrhea are prime examples of dehydration-causing side effects associated with conventional cancer treatment. High fever, infection, bleeding, or drinking insufficient fluids can also decrease the volume of fluid in the body.
Complications of Dehydration in Cancer Patients
Without prompt treatment, dehydration is a serious condition that can lead to severe complications. Swelling of the brain, kidney failure, seizures, shock, coma, and death are possible but preventable scenarios.
How to Recognize Loss of Fluids in the Body
Dehydration poses more danger when a cancer patient is living alone or seeking treatment without a caregiver. This is because they may not realize its signs and effects. To help, below are facts cancer patients should know about dehydration.
Look for the following symptoms of dehydration, according to the American Cancer Society:
- Increased thirst
- Dry mouth and lips
- Weakness and lethargy
- Difficulty swallowing food
- Dry skin that “tents” (stays up) when lightly pinched
- A dry, swollen, or cracked tongue
- Rapid weight loss
- Dark urine, or little to no urine
- Sunken eyeballs
- Poor appetite
- A dry and sticky mouth, making it hard to speak
Types of Water You Can Drink to Prevent Dehydration
Staying hydrated provides a host of health benefits, including better brain function, increased energy levels, and reduced risk of complications during cancer treatment. But did you know not all water is created equal?
The different types of water you can drink are:
- Tap Water
Tap water comes from a piped supply. It is often the H2O found in a public toilet, kitchen sink; or washing machine, among others.
- Benefits of tap water. After reading the above sentence, you might shake your head at the thought of drinking tap water. The truth is, however, that tap water is a safe thirst quencher across much of the United States. Plus, tap water is cheaper than buying bottled water.
- Cons. While existing industry regulations prevent lead and other noxious substances from contaminating the supply of tap water, it is not foolproof. The ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan exemplifies this argument. What’s more, research from the Guardian showed plastic particles in tap water around the world.
People pull this popular drink option from mineral springs. As the name implies, mineral water is full of health boosters, including sulfur, magnesium, and calcium.
- Benefits of mineral water. This type of drinking water provides a healthy dose of minerals that the body cannot produce on its own. It also aids with digestion, according to Medical News Today.
- Cons. A downside to mineral water is cost. Several of the minerals from this drink can also be acquired from a healthy, varied diet.
The process of making sparkling water involves infusing carbon dioxide gas while under pressure. This bubbly beverage is also called carbonated water or soda water.
- Benefits of sparkling water. This type of water offers a fizzy feeling in the mouth compared to flat water. Sparkling water is an excellent option if you like drinking soda, which has a host of health disadvantages with its high sugar content. In addition, sparkling water tends to be mineralized.
- Cons. Although there are some minerals found in sparkling water, the concentration is not enough to benefit your health in a significant way. Sparkling water is also more costly than tap and certain types of bottled water.
Producing this type of drinking water involves boiling H2O, followed by collecting the steam and condensing it back into a liquid. The process separates impurities and minerals from the water, making it safe to drink.
- Benefits of distilled water. Some sources allege that drinking distilled water can detoxify the body and improve overall health. Distilled water is an option if the tap water supply in your location has potential contaminants.
- Cons. In contrast, several studies claim that distilled water contains no vitamins and minerals. It also has the probability to become harmful, since non-mineralized water may pull minerals from other sources — in this case, your body.
Purified water is typically tap or groundwater that received treatment to remove detrimental substances. These include bacteria, parasites, and fungi.
- Benefits of purified water. Similar to distilled water, purified H2O is an available option if your immediate water source has contamination risks. That said, several countries purify tap water.
- Cons. Because the process of purifying water removes all potentially harmful substances, you also miss out on some beneficial ones included in tap water supplies. Fluoride is an example, which helps to combat tooth decay.
Flavored or Infused Water
This type of water contains sugar or artificial sweeteners, as well as natural or artificial flavorings.
- Benefits of infused water. Flavored drinking water offers a tasty alternative to plain water. As such, it makes drinking fluids in larger amounts easier. You can purchase artificially flavored waters in stores or make some yourself by adding fruits and veggies into tap or bottled water.
- Cons. In a number of cases, flavored water comprises added sugars and artificial sweeteners. Excessive or constant sugar intake can cause weight gain and negatively affect patients with diabetes. Moreover, artificial sweeteners present dangers to human health.
Alkaline water has a higher pH level than regular tap water. It likewise contains alkaline minerals and negative oxidation-reduction potential (ORP).
- Benefits of alkaline water. This type of water having a higher pH level has led many to believe that it may neutralize acids in the body, help to slow the aging process, or even prevent cancer development. There is, however, very little scientific proof supporting these claims.
- Cons. It is generally safe to drink alkaline water, but it may lessen stomach acidity, thereby reducing its capacity to fight harmful bacteria. In excess, alkaline water could lead to metabolic alkalosis, which manifests through nausea and vomiting.
The Bottom Line
As long as the water you are drinking is clean and safe, the main focus here is to ensure you stay hydrated to prevent the severe complications of dehydration. And, if you have concerns about the quality of your water supply, you can always invest in a home filtration system for further cleansing.
We encourage you to talk with our cancer care team about your specific medical condition. New Hope Unlimited is a leading provider of alternative cancer treatments with fewer side effects and improved quality of life. Contact us now.