By Cheryl Patterson, R.D. Registered Dietician.
How do I get enough water?? We hear this question frequently at The Forbes Norris ALS Clinic. Hydration is important and can become challenging with swallowing difficulties. Here are 5 guidelines to remember.
It doesn’t have to be water!
All liquids, including thick liquids, “count” toward staying hydrated. An 8 oz Boost Plus or Ensure Plus contains 6 oz water. Smoothies, milkshakes and even Jello are mostly water. Thicker liquids are less difficult to swallow because they move slowly, are easier to control in the mouth and are less likely to cause coughing. An added benefit to water-alternatives is that every sip can provide needed nutrients and calories too.
A recommendation of “6-8 GLASSES” means “6-8 CUPS”,
or 48-64 ounces. One measuring “cup” holds 8 liquid ounces.
Some people have always taken less liquid than recommended,
and have not needed more.
Estimates are based on body weight.
Adults with higher body weight may need even more than 8 cups.
Urine should be pale yellow, indicating adequate hydration.
It IS possible to be overhydrated, although this is unlikely.
A speech language pathologist (speech therapist) can provide you with many strategies for safely maintaining hydration and help you decide if it may be time to consider supplementing your oral hydration with the assistance of a PEG tube.