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5 reasons to drink water during chemotherapy

Published: 11 Jul 2017

Health experts are always telling us to drink plenty of water – especially during illness. Hydration is really important to our general wellbeing, and when you’re battling cancer, it can make a real difference to how you feel.

Up to 60% of the adult human body is comprised of water, and ideally women need to consume 2-2.7 liters of water a day to stay hydrated. For men, this amount increases to 2.5-3.7 liters. Every part of your body, from the brain to the skin to your hair needs water to function properly; and it needs even more when you’re fighting disease.

Staying hydrated is absolutely critical during cancer treatment, particularly if you are undergoing chemotherapy with Cold Cap Therapy. Here are just some of the reasons you should have a bottle of water with you at all times before, during and after your chemo sessions:

1. Replenish lost water

Due to the many unwanted side effects of chemotherapy, such as sweating, vomiting and diarrhea, your body becomes very dehydrated.

While water will not take these side effects away, add in the symptoms of dehydration and you’ll feel even worse after treatment. Staying hydrated not only keeps additional nastiness at bay, it also helps to flush chemo chemicals out of your kidneys – the organs which control our bodily waste - which is our next reason to drink more water.

For maximum benefit, it is better to drink room temperature water, as this is closer to your internal body temperature than cold beverages, so your body doesn’t have to expend additional energy bringing it up to the right temperature.

2. Get rid of toxic waste

Chemotherapy is a drug-based therapy used to shrink, control or kill cancerous cells. During treatment, the toxic waste produced by these drugs breaking down cells can build up in your kidneys, the organ we rely on to extract waste from our blood and filter that waste out of the body through our urine.

Drinking plenty of water helps your kidneys to break down the waste and excrete it through your urine, reducing the chances of it causing any long-term damage to your kidneys and other internal organs.

Also, as your kidneys break down toxic waste and the strength of the drugs in your system reduces, continuing to drink water will help your organs to continue functioning at full performance.

3. Fight fatigue

Chemotherapy can be a grueling process, and you will naturally feel tired and lethargic after treatment. Keeping an eye on your fluid intake can help fight fatigue.

Dehydration in people that are not unwell and are fully fit can cause fatigue – and its impact is even more pronounced on people going through cancer treatment.

When you are dehydrated, your body is losing more fluid than it’s taking in, as a result of natural processes like sweating and urination. This loss of fluid leads to a drop in blood volume, so the heart has to work harder to pump oxygen to the brain, muscles and skin.

Now imagine how hard your body has to work if you’re dehydrated and battling a disease – a good reason to reach for the water!

4. Help prevent hair loss

If you're worried about losing your hair through chemotherapy, many women have found using a cold cap during treatment helps to after and retain their hair – and we recommend drinking plenty of water throughout.

We advise all Penguin Cold Caps users to increase their water intake two days before treatment begins. During chemo, the optimum amount of water to consume is half a liter (16 fl ozs) every hour you are cold capping, and ideally this water should be room temperature.

At the end of your chemotherapy treatment, continue to keep up the increased water intake for at least two days afterwards, to help flush hair-damaging toxins out of your system.

5. Feel more human

Good hydration is important to keeping you in top shape – before, during and after chemotherapy, and well into remission.

We all need water to feel good on the inside and out, keep us looking healthy, and make sure everything is functioning well internally.

Staying hydrated supports the essential bodily functions that ensure we stay alive and feel human. From regulating body temperature, heartbeat and blood pressure, to lubricating joints and creating saliva, water plays an essential role in our overall wellbeing.

How much water should you drink when going through chemotherapy?

If you’re going through chemo at the moment, medical professionals recommend you increase your water intake from 8 glasses a day to 10-12 glasses a day – that’s the equivalent of 1,900ml of water.

It is also recommended that you drink filtered water, to protect yourself from the chemicals and bacteria found in many drinking water sources. Of course this isn’t always feasible or affordable, so don’t worry too much if you rely on unfiltered tap water as your source of hydration.

To find out more about good hydration during chemo, click this link