Cancer patients need to be especially vigilant when it comes to adequate hydration. Drinking enough fluids helps the body excrete toxins such as those produced by chemotherapy. The health care provider needs to express the importance of drinking plenty of fluids when it comes to cancer treatment. When patients become dehydrated, either due to the gastrointestinal effects of chemotherapy or because they are not taking in enough fluids, they can become excessively fatigued and lack energy. Sometimes dehydration can prompt a trip to the hospital, as patients can become extremely sleepy and even lethargic. When this happens, intravenous fluids are often started and then the patient becomes more responsive.
Being adequately hydrated means that the urinary tract system can function at it’s best, while eliminating toxins and bacteria, via the urine. If toxins and bacteria are not allowed to be eliminated, infection can take hold. With the cancer patient’s already compromised immune system, any infection, no matter how small can be dangerous.
Patients can also enjoy renewed energy and relief of oral irritation when they consume enough fluids. Treatments and medications can cause dry mouth and oral ulcers. Lack of oral moisture can exacerbate symptoms and cause an infection. Not taking in enough fluids can also cause difficulty when eating, causing the patient to reduce their intake of food. This can promote fatigue and weakness, while discouraging healing. Although many people do not enjoy drinking plain water, it is important they are told that they can drink fruit juices, teas and eat Popsicles as well, providing that these are not contraindicated with their treatment plan. Although many patients enjoy their morning cup of coffee, it is important to note that coffee has caffeine in it, and if taken excessively, can even cause dehydration. Patients will find that when they are adequately hydrated they will not only feel better, they will look better – an important factor for raising self-esteem.