Why Is It Important to be Hydrated If You Have Diabetes?
While hydration is important for everyone, it is especially important for individuals with diabetes. Polyuria, or frequent and excessive urination, is a common condition in diabetes and can place individuals with diabetes at a greater risk of dehydration.1 In addition, dehydration can increase blood glucose levels via various physiological responses.1–3 As water content in the blood decreases, glucose in the blood becomes more concentrated, which can cause mild to significant rises in blood glucose levels.3 Exacerbating hyperglycemia in diabetic individuals is dangerous, as continued severe dehydration can contribute to precipitating serious complications.
Dehydration is also a key characteristic of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state (HHS), two acute hyperglycemic complications of diabetes.4 Although dehydration alone is unlikely to directly cause the complications, DKA and HHS are marked by severe hyperglycemia that leads to symptoms such as dehydration. Thus, adequate hydration is important in both treating such acute complications and in preventing sudden rises in blood glucose levels.
What Are the Causes of Dehydration?
The following factors can contribute to dehydration:5
- Insufficient water intake
- Strenuous physical activity
- Hot weather or heat
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Medications such as diuretics
- Medical conditions such as infection, impaired thirst mechanism, or altered mental state
What Are the Symptoms of Dehydration?
Here are symptoms of mild to severe dehydration:5
- Dry mouth
- Dark urine
How Do You Treat and Prevent Dehydration?
Treating dehydration often includes identifying the cause(s) and rapidly replacing lost fluid through isotonic fluid boluses, or fluid with osmolality similar to plasma.5
It is important for individuals with diabetes to be mindful of their fluid intake, especially when engaging in strenuous physical activity, being exposed to heat, and undergoing illnesses. When exercising, the American Council on Exercise recommends the following to prevent dehydration:6
- 17-20 oz of water 2 hours before physical activity
- 7-10 oz of fluid every 10-20 minutes during physical activity
- 16-24 oz of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after physical activity
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