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Dehydration is one of the most frequent causes of
hospitalization among people over the age of 65.
An article in Nurse Practitioner concluded that "Dehydration
is the most common fluid and electrolyte disturbance among
the elderly population today."
Water is important to all bodily processes say medical
experts. Water carries nutrients, hormones, and disease
fighting cells and antibodies to and from body organs
through the bloodstream. Water carries carbon dioxide and
waste products to the lungs, intestinal tract and kidneys to
Hypertension, circulation disorders, kidney stones,
arthritis, indigestion and constipation are all common
disorders found in elderly people that can be directly, or
indirectly, caused in inadequate water intake. Over the age
of 65 thirst diminishes and a person is not likely to drink
without consciously thinking about it.
A lack of water aids kidney stone development since there
isn't adequate water for kidneys to flush out stone forming
A lack of water causes sodium levels in the body to rise.
When not enough water is ingested, the body holds water.
This causes fluid buildup and sodium retention. Salt draws
water out of the tissues, increasing dehydration. This can
result in confusion, excitability, and a host of other
problems to which older people are prone to, especially
increased blood pressure.
Water is important for digestion and absorption of food.
Digestive symptoms such as nausea can be indicative of the
need for more water. Constipation, a frequent complaint of
elderly Americans is commonly caused by inadequate water
intake, says a California nutrition expert.
Joint and muscle stiffness occur as a result of not enough
water for lubrication.
Without adequate water, there is stress on the
cardiovascular system. Blood becomes thicker so the heart
works harder and circulation is slowed. Many elderly people
already have a sluggish circulation.
When circulation is sluggish the brain doesn't receive
enough oxygen resulting in headaches, dizziness, fatigue,
and a loss of mental alertness. A reduction of only 4 to 5
percent in body water will result in a 20 to 30 percent work
Postmenopausal women taking estrogen supplements need to be
aware that estrogen acts as a salt retainer. Water is
needed to remove the excess salt from the body.
Some common signs of an inadequate water intake are
constipation, dark yellow urine, and dry, sticky mouth
caused by decreased salivary gland function says a Harvard
physiologist. Everyone needs a minimum of eight 8-ounce
glasses of water spaced evenly throughout the day.
For more information on the importance of water in the body:
About the author:
Author: Marilyn Pokorney
Freelance writer of science, nature, animals and the
Also loves crafts, gardening, and reading.
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