Good nutrition is vital for the health and wellbeing of everyone. It’s particularly important for someone who is recovering from an illness. Eating only a limited diet or not getting enough food can lead to malnutrition.
It’s recommended that adults drink the equivalent of six to eight glasses of fluid every day. It’s important to have access to water and other drinks throughout the day. But if your appetite is poor, avoid too many drinks just before meals.
You should aim to drink at least 1.6 – 2 litres (2.8 – 3.5 pints), around 8 glasses, of fluid per day to stay hydrated. Drinking sufficient amounts can contribute towards staying fit and healthy. Signs of dehydration can include: a dry mouth or lips, thirst, tiredness, headache, dry and loose skin, and dark coloured or strong smelling urine.
Good levels of hydration in older people can help prevent or aid the treatment of:
- Pressure ulcers
- Low blood pressure
- Urinary infections
Do you feel thirsty? You may be already suffering from mild-moderate dehydration; thirst is often a late response to dehydration
Checking the colour of your urine is an easy way to assess your own hydration status: use the pee chart to score your urine 1-8 to see if you need to drink more.
Aging and illness can alter thirst response: as you get older, you may not feel thirsty when you become dehydrated. This is also common in people who have had a stroke or suffer from dementia.
Keep a close eye on your hydration status, especially in warmer conditions: during summer months when the weather is hot, or inside the home when central heating is on, the fluid you lose through sweating will be much higher.
You will sweat more if you are active: try drinking at 10-15 minute intervals during exercise to prevent dehydration.
If suffering from vomiting or diarrhoea, you need to replace the fluid lost to prevent dehydration. Oral re-hydration salts are available at your chemist.
If suffering from constipation, drinking more fluid will help soften stools and make them easier to pass.
Don’t worry about urinating during the night: try increasing your fluid intake earlier in the day. Aim to have a minimum of 600ml (1.1 pints) of fluid before lunchtime.
Top tips for Healthy Hydration
Try drinking fresh cool water: fruit juice, milk, tea and coffee can also be taken. Opt for water, drinks that are sugar-free or skimmed milk if you have diabetes or you are trying to lose weight.
Around 20% of our daily intake of fluid is contained within our food: if you find it difficult to increase the amount you drink, try opting for foods high in moisture such as fruits and vegetables as these are up to 90% water.
Semi-liquid foods count towards total fluid intake: try soups, sauces, jellies, ice lollies and ice cream to increase fluid intake further. Chose sugar-free alternatives if you are diabetic or trying to lose weight.
Nourishing drinks can also help increase calorie intake: try making milkshakes, smoothies or hot chocolate made with full cream or fortified milk, especially if you are not eating well and need to maintain your weight.
Avoid large amounts of caffeine and alcohol: these can make you pass more urine and increase your risk of dehydration. Consume no more than 4 caffeine containing drinks per day. If you chose to drink alcohol, do so within line of current government guidance.
Try drinking in between meals or after eating: avoid filling up on fluids before eating.
Try to fit your fluid intake around your daily routine: for example try having a full glass of water with medication(s), a glass of fruit juice after breakfast, a cup of tea mid-morning, squash after lunch, a smoothie or milkshake mid-afternoon, a cup of coffee after your evening meal, a glass of milk after supper, and a hot chocolate drink before bedtime.
Tap water is safe to drink: filtering water will freshen the taste slightly however leaving water to stand can have the same affect. Adding some ice or chilling water will help to remove any chlorine taste.
Information taken from: http://www.bapen.org.uk/pdfs/food-first-leaflets/keeping-hydrated.pdf
What is dehydration?
Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluid than you take in.
When the normal water content of your body is reduced, it upsets the balance of minerals (salts and sugar) in your body, which affects the way it functions.
Water makes up over two-thirds of the healthy human body. It lubricates the joints and eyes, aids digestion, flushes out waste and toxins, and keeps the skin healthy.
Some of the early warning signs of dehydration include:
- feeling thirsty and lightheaded
- a dry mouth
- having dark coloured, strong-smelling urine
- passing urine less often than usual
A baby may be dehydrated if they:
- have a sunken soft spot (fontanelle) on their head
- have few or no tears when they cry
- have fewer wet nappies
- are drowsy
The body is affected even when you lose a small amount of fluid.
What causes dehydration?
Dehydration is usually caused by not drinking enough fluid to replace what we lose. The climate, the amount of physical exercise you are doing (particularly in hot weather) and your diet can contribute to dehydration.
You can also become dehydrated as a result of an illness, such as persistent vomiting and diarrhoea, or sweating from a fever. .
Who is at risk from dehydration?
Anyone can become dehydrated, but certain groups are particularly at risk. These include:
- babies and infants – they have a low body weight and are sensitive to even small amounts of fluid loss
- older people – they may be less aware that they are becoming dehydrated and need to keep drinking fluids
- people with a long-term health condition – such as diabetes or alcoholism
- athletes – they can lose a large amount of body fluid through sweat when exercising for long periods
What to do
If you’re dehydrated, drink plenty of fluids such as water, diluted squash or fruit juice. These are much more effective than large amounts of tea or coffee. Fizzy drinks may contain more sugar than you need and may be harder to take in large amounts.
Infants and small children who are dehydrated shouldn’t be given large amounts of water alone as the main replacement fluid. This is because it can dilute the already low level of minerals in their body too much and lead to other problems.
Instead, they should be given diluted squash or a rehydration solution (available from pharmacies). You might find a teaspoon or syringe can be helpful for getting fluid into a young child.
When to see your GP
See your GP if your symptoms continue, despite drinking plenty of fluids, or if you think your baby or toddler is dehydrated.
If your GP suspects dehydration, you may have a blood test or a urine test to check the balance of salts (sodium and potassium) in your body.
- extreme thirst
- feeling unusually tired (lethargic) or confused
- not passing urine for eight hours
- rapid heartbeat
- dizziness when you stand up that doesn’t go away after a few seconds
You should also contact your GP if your baby has had six or more episodes of diarrhoea in the past 24 hours, or if they have vomited three times or more in the past 24 hours.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common. They can be painful and uncomfortable, but they usually pass within a few days or can be easily treated with a course of antibiotics.
UTIs are more common in women than in men. It’s estimated half of all women in the UK will have a UTI at least once in their life, and 1 in 2,000 healthy men will develop one each year.
Children can also get UTIs, although this is less common. Read more about UTIs in children.
If you develop a UTI, you’re likely to feel:
- pain or a burning sensation when urinating (doctors refer to this as dysuria)
- a need to urinate often
- pain in the lower abdomen (tummy)
A UTI develops when part of the urinary tract becomes infected, usually by bacteria. Bacteria can enter the urinary tract through the urethra or, more rarely, through the bloodstream.
Emptying your bladder after sex, wiping from front to back after going to the toilet, avoiding constipation and drinking cranberry juice are all thought to reduce your risk of developing a urinary tract infection.
Year of Self Care
Each month there will be a different self care theme – you can see the list on the ‘Calendar’ page. For example, in February we’ll be sending out information and advice on mental well-being, while in June we’ll be focusing on carer well-being. Keep an eye of this webpage and our @BFC_Health twitter feed.
We want to get more people, organisations and business involved in Self Care. So, if you would like us to promote your event, service or initiative, just get in touch. It doesn’t have to fit with the theme of the month – we will get your information out there at any time!
Also, get in touch if you’d like our help to set up and run a self care related event or project – just ask. We are always happy to get involved and make it a success.
Bracknell Forest Self-Care Guide:
The Bracknell Forest Self-Care guide provides information, advice and links to services related to long-term conditions and lifestyle factors. Each chapter has a video which gives a summary of the key messages on each topic.
The Long-Term Conditions Guide gives you practical information and signposting to services to help you manage your condition. Guides can be found for; Arthritis, Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Coronary Heart Disease, Dementia, Depression and anxiety, Diabetes, Falls, Hypertension and Stroke.
Lifestyle information is available on Alcohol, Diet and Nutrition, Physical Activity and Smoking.
All guides can be accessed through the Self-Care webpage:
This directory is for everyone who lives and works in and around Bracknell Forest. If you use adult social care, health care or other help and support services, if you fund your own support, or simply wish to find out more about what services and support are available in your local community, you can find all the information and advice in one place.
If you would like to find out about events and activities in the local community, you may also find the community directory helpful:
The Helping You Stay Independent Guide
The Helping You Stay Independent Guide lists activities, events and groups around Bracknell Forest that can support individuals to remain healthy and independent.
To view or download the Guide as a pdf please visit:
Did you know more than three million people in the UK work and also care for someone? Juggling work and care can be a challenge, but as a carer you have rights at work that can make this easier. There is support available to help you continue both working and caring. You have rights to request flexible working and to challenge decisions if you are not happy with the outcome. You may also have rights to various forms of time off. Your employer may offer other forms of support such as unpaid leave or telephone access to the person you are caring for during your working hours.
If you are an unpaid carer and appear to need support, you can ask for a carer’s assessment from Bracknell Forest Council to look at how you can be supported to carry on caring and look after your own wellbeing. The assessment will work out how you can be supported and whether you qualify for support from Bracknell Forest Council.
For more information:
- call the Carers UK’s Carers Line on 0808 808 7777 or visit www.carersuk.org
- contact Bracknell Forest Council Adult Social Care on 01344 351500 or visit www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/carers
- visit the Carer’s Trust website www.carers.org
Following the success of the Olympics’ Gamesmakers Bracknell and Ascot Clinical Commissioning Group have been inspired to create a community of HealthMakers who can support one another in their long term health conditions.
We know that patients with long term health conditions often face crisis with their health which can be frightening and can lead to a feeling of having lost control. We know that most patients want to have confidence in looking after themselves and in recognising the signs when they need help.
We are looking for people who want to make a difference for themselves and for others by becoming HealthMakers.
What will HealthMakers gain?
- Acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes for good health and wellbeing in their condition.
- Opportunities to influence health services and improve patient care.
- Meeting and working alongside others who are also keen to make a difference.
- Opportunities to raise the patient voice within the Clinical Commissioning Group.
- Listening skills and ability to learn from others.
- To inspire and be inspired.
- Create and participate in strong local networks / groups around their condition and train others to do so.
- Make a strong and local difference and improve health outcomes for others.
- Reduce the need for medication and hospital admissions.
- Evidence of team building/counselling and leadership for their CVs.
- Certificates will be provided which can be used to support continued professional development.
If you would like some more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org .