Water is 75% of our body weight. Wrestlers, dieters and models know this fact when they need to drop a few pounds quickly to make weight class. In the body it really is "water water everywhere". Water in the cells, the blood and in the spaces between the cells. And that is what Mother Nature intended.
- Dry Mouth, Lips and Nasal Passages (can also be a side effect of the meds)
- Lack of Tears (and there are other reasons in PD)
- Muscle Cramps (always suspect fluid loss, potassium imbalance)
- Nausea leading to Vomiting
- Lightheadness - Syncope - Dizziness (can occur for several reasons)
- Blood pressure changes (both high and low can occur)
- Heart palpitations
- Feeling too warm (may also indicate fever)
- Lack of sweating
- Confusion (is not just meds, disease progression, or lack of sleep)
- Weakness (another sign of low potassium levels)
- Lack of skin elasticity (a common and rapid symptom in the elderly)
- Changes in behavior and mood - irritability
- Darker colored or strong smelling urine (concentrated urine)
- even Allergy symptoms.
In the dehydration process, there seems to be a connection between not drinking enough and not feeling thirsty.
As a caregiver you may find resistance in your patient because they do not perceive what you actually can see, that they simply don't have a sufficient fluid intake.
As a patient, the less you drink, the less thirsty you feel and you need to help your body...your self...by supplying it with the necessary fluids so that you do not become sicker.
It does not take long for confusion and disorientation to appear, not to mention many of the symptoms listed above.
Our beloved Harry, the Lab mix, became quite sick a couple of months ago. I knew he was sick but the diarrhea (which I addressed immediately) didn't immediately signal me to check his skin resiliency and then the alarm went off. He who normally drinks like a horse, had stopped. I realized it when I didn't have to add a quart of water to the cat fountain a couple of times a day.
A pinch of his skin prompted me to whip out some chicken rice soup which he loves. I kept diluting it but he didn't care, it was wonderfully flavored "people food" and he drank and drank...not all at once but gradually. He went through a half gallon over two days before he began drinking from his water dish and the fountain.
On an informative note: Apparently the chicken soup had a good electrolyte balance for Harry. Had he been a human child, he would have been on Pedialyte or an electrolyte drink such as Gatorade. Or I would have made a drink for him using the following formulation:
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 level teaspoons sugar
- 1 quart (1 liter) drinking water
Addendum: Steve suffered another bout of stress induced dehydration in late July of 2011. We caught it early but he relapsed and we are still working through those issues which have had a swift and profound effect on his cognition much like his first bout.