BRITT | Of the many health concerns for those with type 2 diabetes, none may be more important than the increased need to remain hydrated.
“Our bodies are made up of more than 60 percent water, and while it’s a crucial element for everyone’s good health, it can be a lifesaver for those with type 2 diabetes,” said Jennifer Snyder, Diabetic Educator at Hancock County Health System.
Dehydration is a condition that occurs when the loss of body fluids, mostly water, is greater than the amount that is taken in. Dehydration can lead to serious complications such as kidney failure, seizures, and low blood volume shock.
The risk of dehydration is greater for people with diabetes because higher than normal blood glucose levels deplete fluids. To get rid of the glucose, the kidneys will try to pass it out in the urine, but that requires water, Snyder said.
For those with type 2 diabetes, even the slightest decrease in hydration levels can cause serious health problems:
Hyperglycemia - Simple dehydration occurs countless times during the day to many of us, when we get too busy or forget our water bottle, or when we’re simply not in the mood to drink water. However, for someone with diabetes, skipping a hydrating water break can lead to hyperglycemia – too much sugar in the bloodstream. This in turn, can lead to further dehydration as the body robs water from the cells to help flush the sugar out. Blood glucose levels greater than 180 mg/dL can lead to dehydration.
Exercise-Related Dehydration - Exercise-related dehydration can occur more quickly in people with diabetes and can have more serious consequences. “It’s very important for someone with diabetes to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise,” Snyder said. “Extra water is needed to flush high blood sugar from the body plus the body requires more water in general during long periods of physical activity. These two conditions combined can decrease hydration levels much faster in someone with diabetes."
Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic State – HHS is a life threatening condition that can occur as a consequence of severe dehydration in people with type 2 diabetes. HHS occurs most frequently in undiagnosed or older adults with type 2 diabetes, but can occur in younger individuals. HHS usually develops slowly over many days with continued high blood glucose levels and reduced fluid intake such as during an illness or an infection. Blood glucose levels when HHS occurs are typically greater than 600 mg/dL. Possible signs and symptoms of HHS include excessive thirst, dry mouth, increased urination, fever, confusion, and vision loss and can lead to convulsions and coma. The best way to decrease the risk of developing HHS is to stay hydrated and monitor your blood sugar levels closely during illness. If your blood sugar levels rise above 400 mg/dL, you should promptly contact your doctor for further recommendations, Snyder said.
Recognizing signs of dehydration is important. They include:
• Little or no urine
• Urine that is darker than usual
• Dry mouth
• Sleepiness or fatigue
• Extreme thirst
• Dizziness or lightheadedness
• No tears when crying
• Low blood pressure
Causes and contributory factors of dehydration:
• Insufficient fluid intake
• Hot weather
• Strenuous exercise
• High blood glucose levels
If you have diabetes and would like to meet with HCHS's Diabetic Educator, call 641-843-5014. Most insurance policies will cover this service, but be sure to call your insurance provider to see what coverage you have available.