Working with patients at our breast cancer nonprofit, we have immediately learned that staying hydrated during breast cancer chemo is crucial for maintaining overall health and well-being. As the body faces intense treatment, dehydration can worsen the side effects and make the healing process more difficult. So, if you or a loved one are going through this challenging journey, it’s essential to prioritize hydration. In this article, we will share 5 tips to stay hydrated and minimize the effects of chemotherapy.

A person holding a glass of water.Staying hydrated is crucial no matter your health condition, but it becomes increasingly important as you go through your breast cancer journey, especially through treatment. Dehydration is often overlooked, even more so when compared to bigger health concerns that may be caused by the side effects of chemo, but staying hydrated can be the key to help you feel better and face challenges with more energy.

Let’s dive in and explore our 5 tips to stay hydrated through breast cancer chemo.

How Chemotherapy Affects Hydration Levels

The medications used in breast cancer chemo can cause side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive sweating. This significantly affects hydration levels, which should stay high throughout the treatment to prevent further complications. 

Chemotherapy-induced diarrhea is a common side effect that can contribute to dehydration. It is important to monitor bowel movements and consult with your medical team if you experience frequent or severe diarrhea. Vomiting can also lead to fluid loss, and anti-nausea medications may be prescribed to help manage this side effect. Excessive sweating can rapidly consume the body’s fluids.

Signs of Dehydration During Chemotherapy

During breast cancer chemo, it’s essential to be aware of the signs of dehydration so you can take immediate action. Common signs of dehydration include dark yellow urine, dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, and decreased urine output. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to increase your fluid intake immediately. Dehydration is considered severe if you experience one or more of these symptoms: extreme thirst, inability to sweat, low blood pressure, and disorientation.

5 Tips to Stay Hydrated Through Breast Cancer Chemo

  1. Set a water intake goal: Having a specific goal for daily water intake can help you stay on track. Aim for at least 8-10 glasses of water per day, or as recommended by your healthcare provider. Keep a water bottle with you at all times as a reminder to drink regularly.
  2. Include hydrating foods in your diet: incorporating hydrating foods in your diet, like fruits and vegetables with high water content, will help greatly. Aim to eat watermelon, cucumbers, oranges, and strawberries. Soups and broths can also contribute to your overall fluid intake. Check out these healthy recipes you can make to prevent breast cancer.
  3. Manage nausea and vomiting: If you’re experiencing these side effects, try sipping small amounts of water or other clear fluids throughout the day. Ginger, either in the form of ginger tea or ginger candies, can help alleviate nausea. Consult with your healthcare provider for additional anti-nausea medications or strategies.
  4. Stay motivated and track your water intake: Staying motivated to drink enough fluids can be challenging, especially during breast cancer chemo. Set reminders on your phone or use a water-tracking app to stay on top of your hydration goals. Here are some we recommend. Celebrate small victories and reward yourself for staying hydrated!
  5. Work closely with your medical team: They are your best resource through breast cancer chemo, so remember to communicate any concerns or difficulties you may be experiencing, and they will be there to help you.

A woman drinking orange juice.Other Hydrating Beverages to Consider 

In addition to water, there are other hydrating beverages that you can incorporate into your routine. Herbal teas, such as chamomile or peppermint, can be soothing and hydrating. Coconut water is another excellent option as it contains electrolytes that can help replenish the body’s fluids. You can even mix water with the hydrating foods we just listed and obtain fresh, tasty infusions that are also perfect for fighting the heat. Try adding some watermelon, cucumber, strawberry, or orange slices to your water.

Avoid beverages with caffeine and alcohol as they can have a diuretic effect, leading to increased fluid loss.

Lifestyle Changes to Support Hydration During Breast Cancer Chemo

Avoid excessive heat and stay in cool environments to minimize fluid loss through sweating. Wearing loose, breathable clothing can also help regulate body temperature. Additionally, using a humidifier at home can prevent dryness.

Finding Help and Support while Fighting Breast Cancer

If you need breast cancer financial help, our Massachusetts breast cancer nonprofit can help you: check this section to verify if you’re eligible for one of our grants.

If you want to support the work we do for underserved women who fight breast cancer in Massachusetts, consider donating, volunteering, or attending our events.