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Dehydration in Cancer Patients

Dehydration in Cancer Patients

You can become dehydrated if your body expels more fluid than it takes in. If a person has cancer, they can get dehydrated for a variety of reasons. It can occur as a result of a person not eating or drinking enough, or as a result of excessive fluid loss. To function properly, your body's cells require a particular amount of fluids. This is referred to as hydration or the state of being hydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body does not have enough fluid or when it does not have enough where it is needed.

When your body loses more fluid than it takes in, you're dehydrated. Water is our lifeline because our bodies are roughly 60% water.

Also Read: Treating Diarrhea in Cancer Patients

Why is it so crucial for cancer patients to stay hydrated?

Fluids transport nutrients to cells, eliminate bacteria from the bladder, and keep you from becoming constipated. Staying hydrated reduces the severity of treatment side effects and reduces the likelihood of missing or delaying cancer treatments. There will also be fewer trips to the emergency room for IV hydration. Dehydration, if left untreated, can lead to serious problems such as seizures, brain oedema, kidney failure, shock, coma, and even death. Staying hydrated during treatment is vital for protecting your organs from long-term harm because dehydration can disrupt regular bodily functioning and can be highly dangerous.

Here are several cancer-related illnesses or side effects that might cause dehydration:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever, whether or not it is caused by an infection
  • Bleeding
  • a loss of appetite or a failure to consume adequate water; Keep in mind that fluid comes from both food and drink, so if you're not eating, you'll need to drink more to compensate.
  • Fluid loss can occur as a result of procedures and operations

There are a few indicators that you're dehydrated. These are some of them:

  1. a thirsty feeling
  2. mouth, lips, gums, and nostrils are all dry
  3. a rise in headaches
  4. dizziness
  5. confusion
  6. sleepiness
  7. decreased stamina
  8. reduced urination and a darker urine colour
  9. a loss of skin elasticity
  10. blood pressure that is too low
  11. a higher body temperature

What if they experience any of these symptoms?

To avoid major problems, call your care team as soon as you see signs of dehydration.

  • If you're able, gradually increase your fluid intake while keeping note of what you're drinking.
  • Maintain food and fluid journal.
  • Drink plenty of water. It's sometimes simpler to drink frozen fluids.
  • Keep in mind that food contains liquid. Fruits, vegetables, soups, gelatins, Popsicles, and other wet foods should be consumed.
  • To soften dry skin, apply lotion frequently.
  • Dehydration can be caused by a variety of things, including vomiting, diarrhoea, or a fever.
  • To avoid painful cracking, apply lubricant to your lips.
  • If getting up is difficult, fill a small cooler with juice boxes, bottled water, or other drinks and keep it next to you.
  • If you can't drink enough water, eat ice chips to ease dry mouth.

How to prevent Hydration?

As our bodies change, we have varied fluid requirements. Fluid requirements for cancer patients are determined by a variety of factors, including the sort of cancer treatment you're receiving and whether you're experiencing a fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, or other gastrointestinal side effects. The sort of cancer you have has an impact on your hydration requirements. Patients with gastrointestinal cancers, for example, are prone to dehydration due to cancer's loss of appetite and other stomach difficulties.

It's critical to get your fluid requirements calculated by a dietician.

Food and beverages to stay hydrated

When it comes to hydration, water is the greatest option. If you don't enjoy the taste of plain water, try flavoured waters or waters infused with fruits or vegetables.

Other beverages, such as milk, sports drinks, tea, coffee, and moist meals like soup, jelly, yoghurt, sherbet, and pudding, can provide part of the fluid you require.

Also Read: Managing Cancer Related Fatigue with Home Remedies

What can caretakers do?

  • Every hour or so, offer cold or cool beverages. If the patient is very weak, use a little prescription syringe from a pharmacy to provide liquids.
  • If possible, encourage the patient to consume modest meals several times a day.
  • Snack on moist meals like soups and fruit smoothies (prepared in a blender with ice).
  • Keep note of your food and fluid intake, as well as your urine output, in an intake and output journal.
  • Make frequent checks on the patient to ensure they haven't become confused.
  • Encourage the patient to take it gently while standing up after sitting or getting out of bed.
  • Offer fluids and make the patient sit or lie down if they become dizzy or faint.

Personalized Nutritional Care for Cancer Patients

For personalized guidance on cancer treatments and complementary therapies, consult our experts atZenOnco.ioor call+91 9930709000


  1. Bruera E, Hui D, Dalal S, Torres-Vigil I, Trumble J, Roosth J, Krauter S, Strickland C, Unger K, Palmer JL, Allo J, Frisbee-Hume S, Tarleton K. Parenteral hydration in patients with advanced cancer: a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial. J Clin Oncol. 2013 Jan 1;31(1):111-8. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2012.44.6518. Epub 2012 Nov 19. PMID: 23169523; PMCID: PMC3530688.
  2. Fredman E, Kharouta M, Chen E, Gross A, Dorth J, Patel M, Padula G, Yao M. Dehydration Reduction in Head and Neck Cancer (DRIHNC) Trial: Daily Oral Fluid and Electrolyte Maintenance to Prevent Acute Care Clinic and Emergency Department Visits for Patients Receiving Radiation for Head and Neck and Esophageal Cancer. Adv Radiat Oncol. 2022 Jul 13;7(6):101026. doi: 10.1016/j.adro.2022.101026. PMID: 36420199; PMCID: PMC9677213.
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