How to Stay Hydrated While Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Dehydration can exacerbate joint pain and other unpleasant symptoms in people with RA.
You've probably heard that staying hydrated is essential for overall health. However, if you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), drinking enough fluids is especially important for maintaining joints and reducing symptoms.
RA is a disease that occurs when the body's immune system attacks joints and other tissues by mistake, resulting in symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue, inflammation, and stiffness.
A lack of water may aggravate joint pain and other RA symptoms
"When I don't drink enough water or if I'm in extreme heat, my rheumatoid arthritis symptoms definitely worsen," says Shanti Devi, a rheumatoid arthritis patient and advocate. "I tend to feel more stiffness in my joints and muscles." I've noticed an increase in fatigue, sluggishness, and cognitive dysfunction."
Water is essential for various parts of the body to function properly. A lack of liquids can lead to increased inflammation and a decrease in the amount of fluid that cushions joints. The good news is that simple precautions can help you avoid the harmful effects of dehydration.
Here's what you need to know about how RA patients are affected by dehydration.
How Does Dehydration Affect RA Patients?
Dehydration occurs when your body does not have enough fluids to perform normal functions because you use or lose more liquids than you consume.
The number of cases hospitalised for dehydration is increasing year after year.
Although there has been little research into the exact relationship between dehydration and RA, scientists do know that water consumption can affect the processes that keep joints working.
There have been no studies on the effects of dehydration on RA patients, but there is evidence that hydration may help maintain joint health.
Staying hydrated aids in the removal of toxins from the body, which may reduce inflammation.
Cartilage necessitates hydration to remain healthy and functional
Hydration is also important for healthy cartilage, which is the tissue that covers the ends of your bones and allows them to glide over each other without rubbing. According to a British Medical Bulletin article, between 65 and 80 percent of your body's cartilage is made of water. When you are properly hydrated, the friction between your bones is reduced, allowing you to move more freely.
A good analogy would be to compare cartilage to a sponge. A hydrated sponge is wet, soft, and easy to manipulate. When it dries, it becomes stiff and difficult to use.
Furthermore, if you're dehydrated, your body may not produce enough synovial fluid, which is a thick liquid found between joints that acts as a cushion and prevents friction when you move. Because water is a major component of synovial fluid, staying hydrated may help keep joints healthy.
According to some research, drinking hydrogen water (water with hydrogen gas added to it) may help reduce RA symptoms. The idea is that adding hydrogen to water boosts its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. More research, however, is required to confirm these findings.
Dehydration Signs and Symptoms in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients
Dehydration symptoms to look out for include:
- Fainting or dizziness
- Dark-colored urine
- Urinating less frequently
- Dry skin or mouth
"Not only is my mouth dry, but so are my joints and muscles," Shanti Devi says. "I also have a strong desire for sugary foods, which are known to increase inflammation." I notice an increase in heartburn and stomach ache when I don't drink enough water."
How Much Water Should You Consume?
The amount of water you should drink is determined by your gender, age, and level of activity. Furthermore, certain medications may necessitate a high fluid intake.
“While there are no specific hydration recommendations for people with RA, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends the following:
- Adult men should drink 3.7 litres (L), or approximately 16 cups, of water per day.
- Adult women should drink 2.7 L (approximately 11 cups) of water per day.
In these recommendations, the total daily water consumption can come from both beverages and foods.
The guidelines are a good starting point, but depending on the weather, their activity level, or other factors, some people may need to consume more or fewer liquids.
How to Stay Hydrated When You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
Drinking enough fluids may necessitate a concerted effort on your part.
"It is important to stay hydrated, especially in hot weather," Hsiao says. "It may help to carry a reusable water bottle to help rehydrate during the day." "Keep hydrated before, during, and after exercise." Hydration will also aid in the reduction of muscle cramps."
Here are some tips for staying hydrated. "Water can get boring after a while, so keep some sparkling water on hand as well as some lemons or limes for flavour and added vitamin C." "This not only helps stay hydrated but can help with malaise from both RA and medication side effects."
Other ways to stay hydrated include:
- Establish a routine. Some people find that drinking a glass of water after every bathroom visit or before each meal is beneficial.
- Monitor your consumption. Water bottles that communicate with smartphones can help you track how much you drink.
- Set up reminders. Daily alarms on your phone or computer can remind you to drink a glass of water.
- Consider using an app. Apps such as Daily Water Free and Daily Water can help you stay on track.
- Avoid drinking dehydrating beverages. Drinks containing alcohol or caffeine can dehydrate you by drawing water from your body.
- Consume foods that aid in hydration. Fruit, vegetables, and soups are high in water content.
The Bottom Line on Hydration's Importance
While drinking more water will not cure RA, it may improve joint health and keep joints lubricated.
When you're hydrated, your entire body works better, and you'll have more energy and a better mood.
But don't go overboard. Too much water can lead to hyponatremia, a condition characterised by low sodium levels in the blood.
If you are concerned that you are not drinking enough liquids, consult your doctor.