Proper hydration is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. For people with GI diseases though, that process can be a challenge. Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease – all of these conditions can cause diarrhea, which drains the body of essential fluids. In this guide, we will go over some ways to stay hydrated with Crohn’s disease so you can stay as healthy as possible.
The Importance of Good Hydration
Why is hydration such a big deal? It’s not just because our bodies are made mostly of water. Drinking water keeps all of your systems moving (digestive system, cardiovascular system, nervous system, etc.). When you are properly hydrated, your body is functioning the best it possibly can. This drastically reduces the severity of your GI disease symptoms, and it gives you the energy you need to get through the day stress-free. It’s a win-win situation!
How Much Water Should I Drink?
Unfortunately, this question doesn’t have a direct answer. The standard rule of thumb is eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day for an average person of average health and activity levels. Your activity levels may vary based on your symptoms, as will the amount of diarrhea or vomiting your experience. If you are in the middle of a flare-up, you may need a lot more water than you will normally.
Try to drink at least six bottles of water a day (usually around 16 ounces each) and drink more than that when exercising. Sports drinks like Gatorade, Vitamin Water, and Powerade can help hydrate you body and also replace lost electrolytes quickly.
Avoid Food with High Sodium Levels
Sodium absorbs water, which reduces the effects of whatever water you’re trying to consume. Foods that are high in sodium are also bad for your heart, and they can make you gain weight. Stick with a low sodium diet, including the drinks you consume. It’s best to stick with just water, but if you want to drink something else, avoid soda and energy drinks. Coffee can make your bowel problems even worse than they already are, so you should avoid that as well. Talk to your doctor about which foods and drinks are right for your GI condition.
Watch for Signs of Dehydration
Always look out for signs of dehydration, especially when your Crohn’s or UC symptoms are causing heavy bouts of diarrhea. Common indicators include:
- Dry mouth
- Constant thirst (listen to your body!)
- Decreased energy levels
- Decreased urination
- Increased heart rate
- Dark urine
What to Do When Water Isn’t Enough
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, drinking high volumes of water may not be enough to keep your body hydrated. If you feel like you aren’t managing your dehydration well, you may need to see your doctor or a local health clinic about getting IV fluids. This will give your body the boost it needs to fight back on its own. Work with your doctor to control the GI symptoms causing dehydration in the first place, and you will be set for success.