The Importance of Hydration for Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease

October 5, 2022

Judith Ball, M.S., CCC-SLP, College of Health Sciences, Speech-Language Pathology Program, Speech-Language Institute

Hydration is critical for our body to function properly. It is especially important for individuals with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease (PD) to monitor hydration closely. Not only do signals telling us we are thirsty decrease with age, but individuals with neurological disorders, such as PD, have a reduced ability to determine thirst. Swallowing challenges for individuals with PD can also complicate water intake, as there may be fear of coughing or choking from drinking. Other factors that may impact hydration include medications side effects and concerns about incontinence.

Signs of dehydration go beyond feeling thirsty. You may feel fatigued and weak or have reduced attention and concentration. Side effects, such as dizziness, headaches, and muscle cramps are especially worrisome, as they can results in increased risk of fall. Extreme dehydration can also lead to confusion or hallucinations. There is also an increased risk of constipation since water is important for digestion.

Tips for increasing your fluid intake:

  • Try to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water and limit drinks that can be dehydrating such as alcohol and caffeine.
  • Use a water bottle and set a goal for how many bottles of water you will drink in the day.
  • Drink a full glass of water when taking medications.
  • Set a timer to remember to drink water.
  • Drink small amounts of water frequently throughout the day if there are concerns with incontinence.
  • Add a flavor to the water such as lemon, lime, cucumber slices, or juice.
  • Eat foods that have a high water content such as cucumbers, tomatoes, and watermelons.

Often signs of dehydration can mistakenly be perceived as being symptoms of PD. A speech-language pathologists can work with patients to not only recognize the signs of dehydration, but to work on ways to safely increase hydration. After all, adequate and proper hydration is essential for feeling your best.

Sources: https://www.parkinson.org/living-with-parkinsons/management/ diet-nutrition | https://www.parkinsons.va.gov/Houston/documents/ Pathways_07Fall.pdf | https://www.neurologysolutions.com/ dehydration-in-parkinsons-risks-tips-2/

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