colorectal cancer,  coping with flares,  Crohn's,  hydration,  living with IBD,  Ostomy

The Hydration Challenge

The Hydration Challenge
We all know the feeling of waking up to our legs cramping, and our voices barely squeezing out a faint peep as an intense lightheadedness sets in. These symptoms, among others, are classic indications of dehydration. And with summer now in full swing, it is high time we talk about the importance of hydration.

So, why does dehydration happen and why is it so important to stay hydrated as an IBD patient? According to the Mayo Clinic, “dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions.”

Dehydration comes into play for IBD patients because many of us tend to have diarrhea, which can cause a loss of electrolytes. This state is further exacerbated if you are in the midst of a flare-up or stomach virus. Another complicating factor is surgery. If you’ve had your colon removed, live with an ileostomy, or have short gut syndrome, surgical changes can reduce your ability to absorb fluids and electrolytes.

The challenge of hydration is to maintain fluid levels despite sweating in the sweltering summer heat. But perhaps more importantly, hydration weighs in on quality of life as well. Just like plants need water and sunlight to survive, we need electrolytes to stay afloat. I shrivel up into a prune without proper hydration. By maintaining my hydration levels, I feel like baby Mario did when he ate a mushroom and became big Mario in “Super Mario Bros.” I can concentrate better, listen better, and be “every bit of me” better. I can circumvent the dizziness, the fatigue, and the more complex consequences, including bowel obstructions, heat strokes, urinary tract infections, and kidney stones.

So, how do you rehydrate your body? Following are some things I do to stay hydrated:

  • Drink more water, Vitamin Water, Gatorade, Pedialyte, etc.
  • Eat more binding foods (rice, bananas, peanut butter, etc.) if diarrhea is an issue.
  • Create your own oral rehydration cocktail of salt, sugar, and other electrolytes.
  • Mix electrolyte packets such as DripDrop or Nuun in water.
  • Eat Sports Salts or Clif Bloks hydration cubes. These are for athletes but work well for me. Heck, the way we lose water, we may as well be IBD wrestlers!

Tina is a health advocate for patients living with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Via her writing, social media and public speaking engagements, she spearheads public health causes, including those creating awareness for inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's & Colitis), life-saving ostomy surgery and initiatives supporting global women's and minorities' health. The intent of this blog is to give those suffering in silence and in shame a voice that creates greater awareness and acceptance. She owns her chronic illnesses and disabilities and her goal is for you to as well!