Use every drop
25 July 2017
By Hayley Carmichael
Drinking water is one of the easiest ways to stay well, so why aren’t we doing it? We talked to our infection control team to find out…
We’re 70% water – that means we need to drink
Tracy Palmer Wilson, a senior infection control nurse at SCFT is on a mission this year to get staff drinking more water.
Why? Because it is vital to our health. Water works across the whole body, lubricating eyes and joints, it aids digestion, supports kidney and brain function and flushes waste and toxins from the body.
Tracy told us, “It is so easy for staff to overlook their own needs when busy with patients, but we need to lead by example, if patients see us drinking little and often, they will understand when we ask them to do the same.”
“Summer months can be particularly risky for staff becoming dehydrated, which can impact on concentration levels. When it is warmer we sweat more, which means we need to drink more to stay hydrated.”
Other risks of dehydration
We lose water all the time, through sweat, going to the toilet, and natural evaporation. Which means that if we aren’t topping up our water levels, we’re going to feel it, even a few hours without a drink can start to affect our wellbeing.
Signs that you might be dehydrated include headaches, tiredness, dry mouth or throat, feeling lightheaded and an inability to think clearly.
Longer term signs are constipation, and a risk of urinary tract infections or kidney stones.
Is there a right amount to drink?
Tracy explains, “While there are factors such as the weather, or your general health that can impact on the amount of water you should be drinking, general guidelines are for around 6 to 8 glasses per day, or roughly 2 litres.”
“Make sure to sip rather than gulp too, it is better for you. Food actually provides about 20% of your water needs each day, especially if you are eating lots of fruit and vegetables, or soups and stews.”
“There are some easy ways to make sure you get enough, start your day with a glass of water to get the habit going. Keep a bottle in the car, BPA free bottles are ideal for this. In warm weather you can buy bottles which help keep the water chilled too, if you don’t like to sip warm-ish water. Or try adding flavours like slices of cucumber or lemon.”
“Also, make drinking a habit throughout the day, don’t save your sips until you are thirsty, as you’ll already be a bit dehydrated by then. Thirst is your body warning you that you need to have a drink.”
It’s the cheapest drink in town
We are fortunate in the UK to have drinkable tap water, so no need to spend ££’s on plastic bottles that will end up in land fill. Just invest in a good re-usable bottle and top up at the tap.
While lemonade or juices will rehydrate you, they also contain a lot of sugar, so swapping them for a glass of water will not only save you money, it will boost your health too.
Find out more
There is a wealth of information out there on water from how to avoid water waste, to how stay hydrated.
NHS Choices is a good place to start.
If you’re a healthcare practitioner, the RCN has a best practice toolkit on hydration you might find useful.