Stay Hydrated, Stay Healthy!
Inadequate hydration was a concern that jumped out at me when I started using a fitness tracker five years ago.
I was surprised to learn I wasn’t consuming sufficient amounts of water! It only took a few days for me to realize I needed to double down and drink more fluids. While I was working as a second-year staff nurse, I was affected by the inability to have water bottles at our nurse’s station, and I also found that floating to different units meant that my routine could change any time I was scheduled to work. I had to figure out a way to stay hydrated.
Some habits that I created and sometimes still need to recommit to include drinking 16 oz of water as soon as I wake up in the morning. I also prepare my water when I am making healthy lunches for work. Then, before I leave my car to start my shift, I drink another 10 to 16 oz. This early consumption ensures that I will take bathroom breaks. And as a side note, how many nurses desire flaccid, ineffective bladders as we age? Let’s not make “zero bathroom trips this shift” a badge of honor. Every time I go to the bathroom at work, I drink more room temperature water as I’m not able to consume as much from the cold-water dispenser in our break room.
I found a study that spoke about nurses and physicians who were evaluated for dehydration before and after their shifts and how dehydration related to cognitive function. A significant percent of nurses and doctors were dehydrated when they started work, and even more were dehydrated when their shifts ended. Short-term memory tests showed impairment in those who were dehydrated. A dehydrated nurse may be putting patient safety and care at risk. The results of this study may motivate the nurse to stay hydrated, whether it be for the nurse’s own well-being or for the safety and welfare of the patient.
Have you tracked your hydration status? If not, now’s a good time to start! Encourage a healthy, hydrated environment in your workplace. Demonstrate how to do this by setting an example, and enjoy the benefits for yourself and for the safety of your patients!
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Please don’t wait, HYDRATE!
Susan Dowd, BSN, RN-BC, CBN and the Healthy Nurse, Healthy New Jersey Team
El-Sharkawy, Ahmed M, et al. “Hydration Among Nurses and Doctors On-Call (the Hands-On Prospective Cohort Study).” Nutrition, Churchill Livingstone, 16 July 2015