The Importance of Hydration

Sometimes I struggle with the fundamentals. I get so involved with the advanced treatments and trying to stay on top of rheumatoid arthritis flares, that I forget the basics. The latest example is keeping hydrated.

Recently my blood tests showed lower kidney function, slightly below normal. I spoke with my doctor and he chalked it up to my having lower physical activity because I use a wheelchair for mobility. But a little online research said it could also be a sign of dehydration.

Issues with hydration

I do have a longstanding issue with hydration. Frankly, some of it extends from challenges with finding an accessible restroom. I get into the habit of reducing my liquids without thinking because I’m worried I will not have a restroom that I can use. This is a real problem that I have experienced, especially when traveling or going to new places.

Steps to improving hydration

But it’s not something I worry about in my daily life now as I have easy access to facilities. But I think these habits have a way of creeping in without me realizing. So I decided to make a purposeful effort to drink two more glasses of water a day. I already carry a water bottle, but I could make this increase by drinking an extra glass as soon as I wake up in the morning and shortly before I go to bed.

The common recommendation is eight 8-ounce glasses per day. So I estimated:

  • One glass at wake up
  • One cup of tea
  • Three glasses with my water bottle
  • A glass of water at dinner
  • Night cup of tea
  • One glass before bed time

How better hydration has improved my health

Improved kidney function

Just adding two glasses of water to my day has been easy and also really helpful. In my latest blood work my kidney function was back in normal range, plus the blood draw was easier. Although I would always drink extra water before the test, it wasn’t enough because my dehydration problem was bigger than that.

Less fatigue and improved liver function

I also have experienced an improvement in my fatigue (which could be from a variety of factors but I cannot discount dehydration as adding to the problem) and my liver function test was back to normal. Ever since being on methotrexate for many years my liver function has been slightly elevated, but I’m wondering if the extra water has helped to alleviate this problem. We will continue to monitor and I will continue to see if keeping hydrated helps.

Other reasons to increase water intake

Certain medications may lead to dehydration

One important item to consider is that taking medications can contribute to dehydration and I take a bunch to treat my RA. While I have increased my water intake, I think I actually need to do more because I still wake up with dry mouth and find that I get thirsty periodically. This is still a sign of dehydration. The 8X8 formula is really a rough one and can vary per the person, so I need to continue working on drinking even more water.

Decreased inflammation

While I have not found any research, I am also wondering if keeping hydrated can help with decreasing inflammation. My latest blood test showed a marked improvement in my CRP level, which has me wondering if drinking water helps to flush inflammation (even if to a small extent). Maybe not, but I think it is worth discussing more with my doctor.

At the very least, I have a number of really good reasons to keep drinking my water and pushing up my hydration level. It has helped my kidneys to be happier, potentially my liver, and may have other positive effects. And it definitely does not hurt to keep pumping the liquids!

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