8 Diseases That Can Cause Dehydration

For most Americans, it can be difficult to maintain proper hydration. We all recognize its importance, but nearly 78% of Americans are considered to be in a state of chronic dehydration.

Lack of hydration can become even more severe for those diagnosed with certain diseases. These underlying conditions are known to prevent hydration even when proper attention is being placed on drinking water and having a high water-containing diet. Even lifestyles void of physical exertion or excessive sweating may still experience improper hydration levels.

Let’s look at eight diseases and how they may contribute to dehydration.

Celiac disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that can damage the liver when gluten is consumed. It currently affects 1 in 10 people. This statistic does not take into account the millions in the United States that are still undiagnosed. In children, dehydration occurs due to diarrhea, a common symptom of celiac disease in their age range. Frequent diarrhea can cause a rapid, cumulative loss of fluid that children may find very hard to replenish.

In adults, celiac disease causes major vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The electrolyte imbalance this creates increases the likelihood of dehydration occurring. For example, without adequate sodium chloride in the body, cells cannot pull fluid into themselves, furthering the dehydration cycle.

Sjögren’s syndrome

An autoimmune disease that affects various parts of the body, Sjogren’s syndrome can affect glands that produce saliva and tears. When it comes to electrolytes and their role in eating, saliva plays an important role in our hydration. Sjogren’s syndrome affects two important pathways the body uses to regulate fluid levels and manage electrolyte balance.

Ulcerative colitis

This is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that targets the large intestine and colon. Inflammation in the lining of the colon creates discomfort and increases bathroom frequency. The bowel movements are often watery, akin to diarrhea. Paired with increased frequency, these bowel movements can dehydrate the body at a rapid rate if proper measures are not taken.

Cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a progressive genetic disease that causes continual lung infections and limits a patient’s ability to breathe normally. In regards to dehydration, a symptom of this disease is how it damages the cell’s ability to attract and position sodium chloride (NaCl), the component essential for drawing fluid into the cell. This leads to excessive salt loss when sweating. As with previous diseases listed, cystic fibrosis symptoms can cause a massive imbalance in electrolyte levels leading to dehydration.

Crohn’s disease

A type of inflammatory bowel disease. Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of your digestive tract, which can lead to a host of symptoms, including diarrhea.

Even if a patient is not experiencing diarrhea because the disease affects the digestive tract, drinking enough fluids may further the discomfort they feel. Because of this, it may prohibit them from taking in an adequate amount of fluid. Others may have difficulty absorbing fluids due to a part of their GI tract being surgically removed.

Diabetes

Tied to a group of diseases that affect how your body processes and manages glucose, diabetes can contribute to severe dehydration. When an excess amount of glucose builds up in the blood, it forces the kidneys to kick into high gear to try and handle it.

When the kidneys get overloaded, the body goes into a form of crisis mode and excretes the extra glucose via urine. Dehydration occurs when these fluids are pulled from tissues in order to create enough urine to bring the body back into balance.

POTs syndrome

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome affects the autonomic nervous system. This branch regulates heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, and body temperature. As it relates to dehydration, electrolytes play an important role in proper heart function. POTs syndrome kicks the heart into overdrive, requiring more electrolytes. If patients fail to replenish these minerals, prolonged elevated heart rate will lead to dehydration.

Cancer

Cancer is a disease in which some of the body’s cells grow uncontrollably and spread. This disease can cause dehydration on two fronts. The first is due to the disease itself. The second is a result of the treatment of cancer.

Symptoms that contribute to dehydration may include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, bleeding, and loss of appetite. All of these could lead to major losses in the fluid required to maintain proper hydration balance. When it comes to the treatment of cancer, a tremendous amount of fluid can be lost during surgery. Chemotherapy often results in a loss of appetite, leading to less water consumption and eating water-based foods.

IV treatments or drinking water: which is right for you?

The good news is that although many diseases can increase the likelihood of dehydration, there are solutions and treatments that can help reverse and manage it. For many of these diseases, simply increasing your water intake throughout the day should be sufficient. Wellness professionals recommend having a water bottle nearby throughout the day and taking small regular sips.

However, drinking more water may not be the ideal solution, especially for diseases that affect the digestive system like Chrons and Ulcerative colitis. Additionally, some patients are so severely weakened due to their disease that the very act of drinking water can be too much. In these cases, IV hydration therapy may be the ultimate solution.

Injected straight into the bloodstream, IV hydration therapy makes large amounts of fluid and a mixture of hydration-related vitamins, minerals, and amino acids readily available for the body to use.

Especially for patients whose symptoms lead to massive fluid loss, IV therapy may be more feasible than trying to make up for it by drinking more water. This is due to an IV’s ability to replenish large amounts of fluids in a short amount of time in a way that is not taxing on the patient.

Underlying diseases can make the journey towards optimal hydration harder. Left unaddressed, dehydration can make the effects of the disease even worse. However, with proper strategies in place and treatments such as IV hydration therapy, being properly hydrated may not be as far out of reach as before. 

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