Staying hydrated: why it’s important and how it can affect your pain

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There are some things that we can do to help our overall health that can possibly also help our pain. Drinking enough water is one of them. In this post I delve in to why drinking enough water and being hydrated is so important, what happens when we are dehydrated, and what you can do to help yourself drink more water and stay hydrated.

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Why is drinking water so important?

Our body needs water to survive. Without it, our organs wouldn’t function and we’d constantly feel tired. We lose water from our bodies all the time through breathing, sweating, and going to the toilet, and it’s important to make sure we stay hydrated to replace the water we lose. Water also helps to remove toxins and waste from the body via our digestive system, kidneys and liver, and this can help fight inflammation.

In a recent guest post on my blog, the author, Dr. Brent Wells, talked about how staying hydrated is an easy way to help reduce neck pain, and also help prevent it in the first place. He said “Grabbing more glasses of water throughout the day will help ensure the discs located between your vertebrae in your spine maintain the correct disc height and space to keep unwanted pressure off the spine. Your spinal discs are about 80% water, so drinking enough water and not getting dehydrated will ensure those discs keep their proper water content. As a result, you will experience less neck pain and neck pain may stop overall.”

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Dehydration can also cause and contribute to other health issues, such as arthritis, gout, headaches, constipation, back pain, and kidney problems. Drinking more water and staying hydrated can also help reduce joint pain in several ways:

  • Water keeps joints well lubricated.
  • Water helps produce synovial fluid in between the joints which helps reduce friction and increases movement.
  • Water encourages new cells to grow in cartilage tissues.
  • Water carries nutrients to the joints.

Read more about this on the Droplet joint pain and arthritis webpage. (I am not affiliated with them in any way, I just found this a really useful resource for this blog post.)

If we don’t drink enough water each day, our bodies become dehydrated.

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What happens when we are dehydrated?

According to the NHS website, dehydration simply means your body loses more fluid than what it takes in. It can affect our bodies and we can start to show the following symptoms:

  • Feeling of thirst
  • Headaches
  • Impact on our memory and concentration
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Dry eyes, mouth, and lips
  • Constipation
  • Tiredness
  • Dark and smelly urine
  • Going to the toilet less frequently

Dehydration can come on much quicker if you:

  • Spend time in the sun
  • Have diarrhoea or vomiting
  • Sweat a lot during and after doing exercise
  • Drink too much alcohol
  • Are on certain medications
  • Are diabetic

Being dehydrated doesn’t only mean you’re body is losing water, “but you also start to lose important minerals that your body needs, such as electrolytes, such as salt and potassium, which help your body breathe, move, talk, and do all the other things it needs to do to stay up and running.” You can read more about this on the Everyday Health website.

When we haven’t drunk enough water, we often feel hungry and crave sweet things. Before tucking in to the sweet or biscuit jar, have a drink, leave it 20 minutes, and see if the hunger subsides.

How much water should you drink?

This will depend on different factors such as how hot the weather is, your environment and where you live, whether you’re male or female, how active you are, and whether you have any health conditions.

There’s different opinions out there, from 6-8 glasses of water a day to 2 litres a day. Speak to a doctor or health professional to find out the right amounts you should be aiming for.

How to stay hydrated

Make sure you enjoy what you are drinking. I personally don’t like water on it’s own; I wish I did, but I can’t stand it; it takes me feel sick. Drinking water on its own is always the preferred option as it doesn’t include any calories or cause harm to teeth. I always pop a dash of cordial (sometimes two different flavours), in to my water. This means I enjoy it, which means I am more likely to drink it. You could also get a diffuser bottle and pop some fresh lemon, lime, or strawberries in there to get a more natural (and healthier!) fruit flavour.

Keep a drink or water bottle nearby. If you work in an office, keep a bottle topped on your desk. If you travel a lot, take a refillable bottle with you.

We often get used to our surroundings and it becomes the norm, so keeping a bottle nearby may not be enough. It can be helpful to set a timer to remind you to drink frequently throughout the day – set an alarm for every hour, or download an app that will remind you, as well as allow you to track how much you’ve drunk. There are even apps which will alert you on a smartwatch.

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Water is obviously found in lots of foods that we eat: soup, fruit and vegetables, yoghurt, tea and coffee. Although water is found in alcoholic drinks, it cannot be counted towards our daily water intake due to the fact that it is classed as a diuretic and causes our body to release and get rid of water, which can lead to dehydration. Alcohol also includes a lot of calories too.

Your thoughts

How do you stay hydrated?

Do you like water, or dislike it like me?

What tips can you share to help others stay more hydrated?

I love to read your comments and always appreciate any social media shares. Please follow my blog or subscribe to keep updated on new posts to help you cope with your chronic pain or help others to learn more about it.

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One thought on “Staying hydrated: why it’s important and how it can affect your pain

  1. Despite Pain says:

    I was once told I was a strange person because I enjoy drinking water. It is actually my favourite drink. It helps that I live out in the country and my water comes straight from the hill. There are no chemicals in it. I love the taste…but even so, I really don’t drink enough. I need to make a bigger effort.

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