Diabetes, Fatigue and Dehydration: What’s the Connection?

Fatigue is one of the most common complaints that physicians hear from patients. In truth fatigue can be a silent thief; stealing time spent with loved ones, causing you to be unproductive at work, and even setting off symptoms of depression. It is important to treat fatigue, and not just ignore it. With a physical exam and blood work, causes of fatigue can be properly identified. Dehydration in atients with diabetes can be one of the key factors leading to fatigue.

Dehydration in patients with diabetes is all too common and can be extremely dangerous. This is because the metabolism of sugar is a very fluid dependant system that quickly suffers if fluid intake is suddenly limited. Encourage your patients Educate your diabetes patients that waiting until they are thirsty to drink is a dangerous trap. If a patient waits until they get thirsty to drink water, he is waiting too long. A new survey recently released found that nearly 30 percent of patients with diabetes would not take heat safety precautions until temperatures reached 100 degrees!! herefore,encourage your patients to drink water at regular intervals throughout the day. Water is also the best beverage to have at mealtime.

Dehydration risks are age-related, also. Remember that as you age your sense of thirst slows; so it is even more important for senior citizens to drink clear fluids regularly. Dehydration is also dangerous in young children because children have a high body surface area relative to body size and weight, making them vulnerable to lose a lot of fluid through the skin even just by perspiring.

Whether old, young, or in the middle, not drinking enough water while managing diabetes can cause unhealthy weight loss, fatigue and even high blood glucose. Common signs of dehydration include fatigue, dry mouth, muscle weakness, dizziness, nausea, and rapid breathing.

How much water a patient needs to drink depends on several factors, including health status, activity level, and where a patient lives. Since water cannot be stored in the body, it’s recommended that each person drink 6-8 eight-ounce glasses of water daily.

Remind your patients to take proper measures to protect their health should they be exposed to excessive heat. Given the weather extremes that can occur even into the fall, this advice is especially prudent to follow. Remind patients to stay indoors if the heat index is dangerous, and to consume additional clear fluids.

Another important message to your patients would be to make sure diabetes equipment and medications are kept from direct sunlight and are kept cool, In hot weather this doesn’t mean leaving equipment at home, but the use of a cold pack such as those made for carrying lunch to work, school, etc. for insulin and supplies.

So as fall approaches, encourage your diabetes patients to keep well hydrated, and to keep supplies cool.

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