Breast Cancer Awareness: Promoting Hydration During Treatment
Pink is the unofficial color of October, and you’re bound to see a lot of it this month. The color’s significance is very important. Since 1985, October has been Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Breast cancer remains the most common type of cancer for women. Each year, more than 200,000 women are diagnosed[i], and one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, or about 12 percent.[ii] Although the disease is rare in men, they do face a risk for developing the disease (at a rate of about 1 in 1,000).
October is all about awareness and activism, and promoting strategies for early detection, raising money for research and care programs, and supporting patients are all major focuses for organizers.
At DripDrop, we wanted to bring some awareness to a subject that we know well – the risk cancer patients face for developing dehydration.
Patients being treated for cancer are at a much greater risk for dehydration, primarily due to side effects of treatment. To bring awareness and help promote strategies for preventing and treating chemotherapy-caused dehydration, we’re highlighting the risk factors, signs and symptoms of dehydration caused by cancer treatment.
Why Chemotherapy Increases the Risk for Dehydration?
Water is one of the most important substances in the body. When the body’s water levels get too low, we become dehydrated. Chemotherapy and the stress the disease puts on the body cause patients to expend water and electrolytes faster than normal.
Risk factors for dehydration include:
- Infection and Fever: Cancer patients are at an increased risk for developing infections, with fever as a subsequent symptom. High fevers cause body temperature and metabolism to increase, which can speed up fluid and electrolyte loss through sweat.
- Vomiting and Diarrhea: Many cancer patients experience these two common side effects of chemotherapy. Both vomiting and diarrhea lead to rapid fluid and electrolyte loss, and during prolonged episodes, dehydration is especially a concern.
- Nausea and Mouth Sores: Not drinking enough water can contribute to dehydration, especially when other risk factors are present. Both nausea and mouth sores, which can be caused by treatment or the disease itself, discourage fluid intake and can lead to a water deficiency in the body.
What Are the Symptoms of Dehydration?
The symptoms for dehydration vary from patient to patient, but one of the best indicators is urine color. Urine should be pale yellow to clear. When you’re dehydrated, it becomes more concentrated and darker. Other symptoms of mild-to-moderate dehydration include:
- Dry lips, skin and eyes
- Excessive fatigue and irritability
- Dizziness, light-headedness or weakness
- Thirst, dry mouth
- Less frequent urination
- Sunken eyes