There is an old man who I met in the hospital that laughed at me when I ask him how much water he drinks daily. Next to him was a 20-ounce cup with a tight fitting lid and a straw. His gray haired head shook back and forth.

When I ask if he drank at least one mug of water, he laughed. I said, “More?”, and he laughed even harder. I asked, “Less?”, and his head went up and down. That is exactly why he landed in the hospital.

For some people, the ability to make it to the restroom is a big issue, so less fluid is consumed. Wearing protective undergarments is a matter of pride, so fewer liquids are swallowed. Puffy, swollen legs, feet, arms and fingers make people afraid of drinking more water.

There are many reasons why people do not drink enough fluids. Whatever the reason, dehydration is dangerous, especially for the elderly. The signs cannot be ignored.

The color of urine of a well-hydrated person is light yellow, the color of straw. A darker shade than this indicates that you should drink more water.

Believe this or not but the health of your kidneys can be determined by the number of trips to the restroom you make. Six or seven visits to the toilet daily is a relatively healthy number. Going long hours without emptying your bladder interferes your body’s ability to remove toxins.

Your skin is the largest organ on your body. It requires adequate hydration or it can become dry and cracked. Cracked, dry skin leaves your body open to harmful bacteria. Skin creams make skin supple, but healthy skin begins from the inside.

Many people that are always hungry are actually just thirsty. Even after a meal, continued hunger may be your body’s way of telling you to drink more water.

Your blood mainly consists of water. People who do not drink enough fluid can feel more tired and lifeless throughout the day. A lack of adequate fluid decreases the amount of oxygen available. This can increase the risk of falls in the elderly.

,If you have a headache and bend over quickly to pick something up and the headache gets worse this means that you need more water. Drink at least 8 ounces, and you will feel the headache disappear.

Your brain needs water, too. When the body is lacking necessary fluid, irritability and grumpiness can set in. Just adding water can brighten someone’s day.

The gastrointestinal tract requires liquid to function properly. If enough water is not present, it takes it from your stool which leads to constipation. Waste cannot move through the intestines without fluid to move it.

I often hear that many people just do not like the taste of water. Water is odorless and should be tasteless. A person cannot live without water. Consider the alternative to life, dehydration is a big first step to declining health. Just drink it.


Bobbie Randall

Contributing columnist

Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a Diabetes Self-Management Training Program at Dunlap Community Hospital, Orrville, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected].