Throughout summer, staying hydrated should be the number one to-do on all of our lists. But for those going through treatment, it’s especially important as chemo can cause dehydration. Plus, side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and poor food and water intake can all quickly add to or result in dehydration so staying on top of it is essential.
Pay close attention to how often you are urinating and the color of your urine. It should be a pale yellow, similar to the color of straw. There’s room on the spectrum, but if your urine reaches a much darker color, like maple syrup, seek help from your doctor.
Other symptoms include dry mouth, fatigue, headaches, and constipation, which can all be associated with cancer treatment as well, a good reason to keep a close watch on the color of your urine.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
Water + Electrolytes
Registered dietician Alexandra Rothwell recommends 8 to 12 cups of fluids per day and increased consumption of electrolytes such as potassium and sodium during treatment. Potassium can be found in foods like bananas, avocados, beans, and leafy greens. Sodium is also an important electrolyte. A great way to get sodium during treatment is to sip on lightly salted broths that can be made at home, like our vegetable broth or chicken broth. She also recommends sprinkling a little salt on slices of apple or other fruits. Many commercial sports drinks tout their electrolytes, but the high amount of sugar outweighs the benefits of the limited electrolytes offered. If you’re going that route, she advises drinking Pedialyte, which is higher in electrolytes and much lower in sugar.
Flavored Waters or Herbal Teas
One of the biggest issues we hear about from our class patrons is the way water tastes when they are going through chemotherapy. They often complain about the metallic taste that occurs when they drink plain water. Instead of reaching for the sugary soda or sports drinks, consider flavoring your water to make it more palatable, and try different tastes to find the one that suits you best. We particularly love our mint water for a refreshing treat.
A lot of your daily intake of water comes through food. In fact, some fruits and vegetables are over 90% water by volume. If you are not eating as much due to a lack of appetite from treatment you need to take this into consideration and up your fluid intake.
Here are some of the best foods for hydration. Keep these around for replenishing snacking.
Icy treats are another way to help with hydration. If the appetite is severely low, the mouth is sore, or nausea is in full force, slowly eating icy treats can be a very helpful way to ease many side effects. Granitas, popsicles, and smoothies are all great options.
It may seem silly, but if treatment is leaving you dehydrated and water does not look appetizing, consider different glasses.
Many people find it easier to drink out of a cup with a built-in straw. For others a large glass pitcher of water chilling in the fridge is a good option, maybe a mason jar is your thing, a large water bottle — whatever it takes to remember to drink water is well worth it.