Coping with Dehydration in Childhood Cancer
Symptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the overall treatment plan.
Dehydration occurs when an individual does not take in enough fluid or loses too much fluid. A baby’s body is made up of around 85% water, a toddler’s around 80%, a teenager’s around 75% and an adult’s body consists of around 70% water which drops to about 60% as they get older.
Every cell and organ in the human body depends on this water to grow and function optimally. For instance, although only 2% of body-weight, the brain requires 15% of the blood flow, and a shortage of water in the brain can manifest in feelings of anxiety, irritation, anger, short attention span, impatience and even depression.
The water in your body is spread around in constant percentages:
- Human bones contain 31% water;
- Kidneys contain around 79% water
- Muscles are 79% water;
- Our heart is around 73% water;
- The human brain is 85% water; and
- The skin is 64% water;
The water in your body performs the following essential functions:
- Controls the heart rate and blood pressure
- Creates saliva
- Lubricates and protects the joints
- Protects organs and tissue, including the eyes, ears, and heart
- Regulates core body temperature
- Removes waste and toxins
- Transports nutrients and oxygen throughout the body via the blood
While we can survive a reasonably long time without food, the human body can only last about 3 days without water before it begins breaking down as various parts start to malfunction and top working.
Individuals having cancer treatment may be at a higher risk for dehydration due to various treatment side-effects which make them lose water, such as diarrhoea and vomiting.
Dehydration does not only lower immune function, it can also shut down self-healing mechanisms, increase acidity, decrease oxygen uptake by red blood cells and suppress many enzymatic reactions vital to cellular function.
Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Dehydration on our static page, Dehydration in Childhood Cancer