February 12


Why Drinking Water When Thirsty Isn’t Enough for People with Diabetes

By Gabriela

February 12, 2021

The daily to-do list of a person with diabetes includes regulating their blood sugar, planning ahead what to eat and drink, as well as finding time to exercise. However, they should also be mindful of the amount of water they drink.

Having diabetes increases your risk of dehydration, which is why you have to drink enough water even if you’re not thirsty.

Even people who have the form of diabetes that’s not related to high blood glucose, called diabetes insipidus, have a risk of dehydration.

Symptoms of Dehydration

These are the most common signs of dehydration:

  • Headache;
  • Thirst;
  • Dry mouth and dry eyes;
  • Tiredness;
  • Dizziness;
  • Dark yellow urine.

But, signs that indicate severe dehydration include:

  • Sunken eyes;
  • Low blood pressure;
  • A weak pulse and rapid heartbeat;
  • Lethargy;
  • Feeling confused.

The Link Between Dehydration and Blood Sugar Levels

If you have high blood sugar levels for a long time, your kidneys will try to flush out the excess glucose from the blood through the urine.

However, by excreting the excess glucose, your kidneys will also excrete valuable amounts of water from your body. That’s why you feel thirsty when your blood glucose rises. So, you have to drink plenty of water to replenish your body with the necessary water.

You may also experience dry eyes or dry mouth when having a rise in blood glucose levels.

If you don’t drink water in such a situation, your body will have a hard time removing glucose from the blood through urine. This can lead to further dehydration since the body will use the water in the cells.

Complications from Dehydration in Those with Diabetes

Prolonged dehydration can affect the function of your kidneys, as they need sufficient water levels in the blood to work properly. Over time, it can even lead to kidney failure.

In those dependent on insulin, the levels of ketones increase to dangerous levels as the blood sugar levels increase. And, if they have high levels of ketones and are dehydrated at the same time, it can lead to a diabetic coma if properly treated.

However, dehydration can still be dangerous for non-insulin-dependent people with diabetes. That’s why all diabetes patients should drink plenty of water.

How to Treat Dehydration

Drinking plenty of water is the best way to treat dehydration. However, if you have severe dehydration, it’s best to seek medical help. Your doctor may give you additional electrolytes since the body loses a significant amount of them through dehydration.

It’s important to avoid sugary drinks like sodas or fruit juices if high blood glucose levels accompany your dehydration. Drinking these sweet fluids will only aggravate the problem.

A Plant to Drink More Water

In some cases, drinking water only when you feel thirsty is not enough. That’s because people with diabetes can become less sensitive to thirst over time. What’s more, your body can become less able to detect thirst with aging.

That’s why having a plan for hydration is a good thing to keep your water levels optimal.

Here are three things to keep in mind:

1. Determine Your Baseline

Even though the daily recommendation for water varies, you can establish your baseline by dividing your weight by pounds and drinking a half-ounce. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day.

But, don’t forget to drink a bit more if you sweat more than usual, exercise, or in a dry environment.

2. Pay Attention to the Signs

Looking at the color of your urine is the easiest thing to check your body’s water levels. If you have bright, yellow urine, it means you are well hydrated. But, if it’s dark yellow, it means you are dehydrated and need to increase your intake of water.

3. Stay Motivated

Staying motivated is crucial to following your hydration plan. So, instead of thinking about the side effects of dehydration, think about the benefits of being well-hydrated. Some of the benefits include:

  • Reduced blood glucose levels;
  • Improved metabolism;
  • Improved energy levels;
  • Weight loss.

Even though staying hydrated is a bit more difficult for people with diabetes, it is surely worth it to experience all of these benefits.


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

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