The Importance of Water
Maybe you have heard that water is the most common substance on earth. Water makes up over 50% of an adult human’s body, and it can be found in every cell. Water is also necessary for the body to function properly because it plays a central role in circulating nutrients, regulating temperature, and eliminating waste.
Because water is so vital, part of a healthcare worker’s role is to ensure that patients maintain fluid balance. A good fluid balance means that a person takes in as much fluid as he or she loses each day. We lose fluids when we use the bathroom, exercise, and take certain medications, but we can replace those fluids by drinking water and by eating foods with a high water content. Many fruits and vegetables like watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, and lettuce are mostly water. Other fluid-rich foods include ice cream, popsicles, soup, and gelatin.
When a person has too little water in the body, the medical term is dehydration. Certain medical conditions such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or severe blood loss can increase a person’s risk of becoming dehydrated. But other factors can also increase a person’s risk, such as mobility issues. When a person has difficulty with mobility, getting up and getting a drink of water can be difficult. Furthermore, a person with limited mobility might fear having to get up to use the bathroom and may cut down on fluid intake.
As a healthcare worker, you can help your patients to maintain a healthy fluid balance by frequently offering fluids every time you enter the room and with each meal. If the person has difficulty drinking independently, you can provide a drinking straw. Offering fluids at a temperature that the patient prefers can also encourage drinking and help to ensure that the person is staying hydrated.