Imagine being out under the scorching heat of the sun. The temperature is high, and you feel the need to drink a lot of water. Chances are big that you are dehydrated. Is it common to everyone? Yes. However, it can become more prevalent and frequent if you have diabetes. What is dehydration? What is its link with diabetes?

What is dehydration?

Dehydration develops when the body loses more fluid than it takes. It could be a result of diarrhea, excessive sweating, and vomiting. However, it is more common in people with uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Its symptoms are as follows:

  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Thirst
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Rapid heartbeat

How is dehydration linked with diabetes?

Dehydration can impair several body functions, especially if you have diabetes. It can affect your brain, joints, muscles, and other organs. It also affects blood pressure regulation, which can be a dangerous medical concern if not addressed immediately.

The following explains the link between dehydration and diabetes:

High blood sugar levels

  • When blood glucose levels spike, the kidneys flush out excess glucose through urine. This increased urination results in dehydration. This also explains why we tend to experience increased thirst due to the lack and short amount of water in the body.

Diabetes medication

  • Some diabetes patients take diuretics to help manage their blood sugar, especially those who have already developed hypertension as a complication. Diuretics are water pills that function by secreting extra fluid and salt out of the body. But how does it lead to dehydration? In line with diuretics’ function, it also increases urine output. If a person does not drink sufficient fluids to compensate for what is lost through urine, dehydration can happen.

DKA (Diabetic ketoacidosis)

  • DKA is a major diabetes complication that occurs due to a lack of insulin in the body and unmanaged high blood sugar levels. It causes the body to convert fat for energy instead of sugar. As a result, ketones are produced, acids that accumulate in the blood and urine. Ketones are alternative fuel if the sugar supply is deficient. DKA causes dehydration since the body flushes out excess ketones through frequent urination. 

How can you stay hydrated if you have diabetes?

Here are some tips you can follow to stay hydrated despite having varying blood sugar levels:

  • The best way to stay hydrated is by drinking plenty of water. Doctors recommend drinking at least 8 glasses of water every day.
  • Check your blood glucose regularly. This involves monitoring your numbers by using CGMs or blood glucose meters. Keep your blood glucose levels at a healthy range.
  • Avoid sugary beverages. Although refreshing and perfect during the summer, these are high in sugar and can trigger diabetes spikes. Drinking sugary beverages can contribute to dehydration due to increased blood sugar levels.
  • Some diabetes medications can cause frequent urination as a side effect. Tell your doctor to help you with your medication regimen.
  • Be cautious of the symptoms of dehydration. If you experience reactions associated with the condition, drink water immediately.
  • Besides water, you can also opt for herbal teas, sugar-free coffee, and fresh lime juice to increase your body’s need for fluid supply.

Dehydration can become severe if not addressed promptly. Call for immediate medical care if you experience heart pounding, trouble breathing, confusion, and low blood pressure.