Importance of Hydration and PD - PMD Alliance

With the summer temperatures climbing, it’s the perfect time to refresh what we know about staying hydrated. Especially since our brains are about 73% water and people with Parkinson’s already have impaired brain function, it is important not to add insult to injury. With inadequate hydration, there is increased risk for decreased short term memory,  attention span, and overall cognition.

How much fluid should a person consume daily?

It depends on your gender, activity level, body size, medication usage, and co existing medical conditions. While drinking eight 8 oz glass – of water daily may be a good general guideline, there is no scientific documentation to support this specific measurement. Men and women have different requirements. In general, men need 15 cups whereas women need less -about 11 cups per day, on average. Another way to calculate your need is simply divide your weight by 2 to get the approximate number of ounces per day.

Once you are thirsty it’s too late, you are already dehydrated. So prevention is the key!

Proper hydration requires planning ahead. Make sure to add extra fluids before, during and after strenuous activities.  Fluids can be depleted by sweating , exhaling, urinating, having a fever or certain medical conditions. Even air travel can diminish our fluids and water is always the  best option when traveling.

During the “dog days of summer” it is best to limit alcoholic beverages as the alcohol acts as a diuretic increasing urination and the chance of dehydration. If drinking alcohol, I recommend following an alcoholic beverage with at least of water if not a coconut water or electrolyte beverage. Consider adding frozen fruit chunks such as mangos, strawberries or grapes to any beverage to encourage water consumption when needing a boost of flavor.  If needed, pediatric electrolyte solutions can help if you are feeling dehydrated with symptoms such as being lightheaded, dizzy, confused, nauseated, or having a headache.

Ensuring you are hydrated does not mean you have to chug only water all day.

Remember that you can add extra fluids from fruits and vegetables as well. It is estimated 20% of the daily fluid intake can come from fruits and vegetables. Consider eating watermelon, celery, radishes, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, and chilled soups; even tiny chia seeds provide fluids when ingested!

Once you are thirsty it’s too late, you are already dehydrated. So prevention is the key! Keep a log if necessary to keep track of both food and liquid intake and goals. Stay hydrated and enjoy the summer.

Blonde woman who is a doctor living with parkinson's

Marilyn M. Hart, MD, is a recently retired, board certified Family Practice Physician, residing in Tucson, Arizona. Originally from Philadelphia, Dr. Hart attended Thomas Jefferson Medical School and the University of Virginia. She has practiced medicine in four different states and eventually settled in Tucson, where she and her husband, Philip McIntyre, raised their three children and have lived for 27 years. Dr. Hart enjoys spending time with her new grandsons, being involved with music in any form, reading, mahjong cards, museums, and being with people.

In 2017, Dr. Hart was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is actively living and participating in the PD community. She is a PMD Alliance Ambassador.

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