A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Stay hydrated during cancer treatment

glass of water on tableDrinking enough fluid during and after cancer treatment is especially important.

But you may not be able to rely on thirst as a good signal of whether you’ve had enough to drink. Instead, set a goal to drink 8-12 cups of fluid a day.

If you don’t have enough to drink, you can become dehydrated.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Dry mouth or tongue.
  • Dark-colored urine.
  • Fatigue.
  • Dry, cracked lips and skin.
  • Headache.
  • Constipation.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Confusion.
  • Dizziness or light-headedness when standing up.

Try other fluids besides water

A variety of fluids can help you stay hydrated. In addition to water, try:

  • Fruit juices.
  • Decaffeinated coffee or weak tea.
  • Sports drinks such as Gatorade.
  • Lemonade.
  • Milk.

Limit beverages with caffeine.

You also can try drinking broth, especially if you’ve been vomiting or have diarrhea.

Homemade or store-bought juice popsicles also are a good choice.

Start some new habits

Incorporating some of these ideas into your daily routine may help you drink enough:

  • Drink fluids all day long, even when you’re not thirsty. Try to drink a cup of fluid every 1-2 hours.
  • Take a bottle of water with you when you go out and keep a cup of water or a water bottle next to your bed at night.
  • Drink a variety of fluids.
  • Ask family and friends to remind you to drink.
  • Keep a record of fluid intake, or put a pitcher of fluid in the refrigerator so you can see if you’re drinking enough.
  • Ginger ale or decaffeinated soda may taste better if left open. This decreases carbonation and brings it to room temperature.

Dehydration can be serious. Call your doctor if you can’t urinate, have a faster heart rate than usual, or if you’re confused, dizzy or light-headed.

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