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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!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • trishak913
    2 weeks ago

    My doctor recommended water with electrolytes added after discovering that I was dehydrated. I used to drink only filtered water, but now I purchase bottled electrolyte water and drink half and half. It’s not eco-friendly and is a nuisance but necessary for many of us with RD!

  • BassetMom
    1 year ago

    As my rheumatologist walks out the door after a visit she says, “Hydrate, hydrate,and hydrate!”

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    1 year ago

    Love it! It’s the latest, greatest mantra! LOL! 🙂 Best, Kelly

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    2 years ago

    Hydration, Hydration, Hydration. I have a pretty good way to keep diabetes (43 years) and RA (17 years) hydrated. I use lots of crystal light (I love lemon aide and peach ice tea). Your article is so right on Kelly !!!

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thanks so much, Rick! 🙂 Cheers, Kelly

  • Carla Kienast
    2 years ago

    Excellent points, Kelly! Most people don’t associate proper hydration and joint pain, but it can also be an underlying cause/help relieve some of the causes: https://www.livestrong.com/article/448421-does-drinking-more-water-help-with-joint-pain/. I’m more susceptible because I take a diuretic (high blood pressure). I have a 64-oz mug that I just fill up in the morning and throw in some lemon slices. This helps keep me on track as I can immediately see how much water I’ve had (and how much more I need).

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    1 year ago

    Carla, this is so great to know! Also really love what you do with the mug of lemon water. I am attached to my water bottle all day. 🙂 Best, Kelly

  • 2mra
    2 years ago

    I certainly agree with you Kelly. Water and similar fluids are very important for our bodies. Including keeping us hydrated, flushes our kidneys, gets rid of some glucose in the body (I’m Type 1 Diabetic), flushes some toxins out of our system and more.

    I was shocked during my recent 6 days in hospital for rest and pain control, that one of the Doctors said that I was dehydrated on top of other issues. I normally drink my fair share of water and other fluids at home, so I was very surprised. I must have slacked off somehow without noticing. Probably all the Christmas preparations, that I have been busy doing. Thanks for mentioning this at such a rushed time of year.

  • Richard Faust moderator
    2 years ago

    Glad the article resonated with you 2mra. You mention type 1 diabetes and, as a hypoglycemic, I know how important hydration is for blood sugar issues. You are absolutely correct that it is easy to simply lose track when things get busy. I’m Kelly’s husband and I have to sometimes prod her when she needs to get something to drink, even with the new found focus. The little things, like hydration, really do make a difference. Best, Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • 2mra
    2 years ago

    Hi Richard:

    Yes, I’ve been a Type 1 for 56 years this month(since I was age 3). I thought that was bad enough but severe RA decided to join my party when I was 24 and then other conditions. I hate RA the most.

    Yes, I am aware that you are Kelly’s Hero…oopps, I mean Husband. 🙂 She is lucky to have your compassion, understanding and help. My Hubby is my hero too although he doesn’t prod me to drink more liquids if I slow down. He probably doesn’t want to drown me. 🙂 Thanks for your help on this site and your comments.

    A Very Merry Christmas and Healthy New year to you and Kelly.

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