The Ways I Made Hydration a Habit
I can’t stress enough the importance of drinking water. Experts recommend that normal, healthy adults consume six to eight glasses of fluid daily. Staying hydrated allows the body to function more optimally, which is especially important for people with sickle cell disease, as the potential consequences of dehydration are not ideal.
When we are dehydrated, our blood becomes thicker, which makes it harder for it to flow through our blood vessels. Having blood with a thicker consistency is dangerous for people with sickle cell, as it increases the possibility of a vaso-occlusive crisis. Staying hydrated is important because it can prevent a few problems from occurring.
When I was younger and didn’t have a full understanding of sickle cell, my parents made sure I was aware of the things I had to do to ensure I was as healthy as possible. For example, I knew I had to take my medicine every morning, wrap up and keep warm, and drink a lot of water. Drinking 2 liters of water a day as a 6- or 7-year-old in primary school was a serious challenge, but my parents made it easier by doing the following.
Taking advantage of my sweet tooth
I had a sweet tooth back then, and still do. I love sugary drinks. People close to me might say that I consume them more than I should, to which I’d reply, “I’m working on it.”
When I attended primary school, I was free of the constant gaze of my parents; they were unable to remind me every hour to drink water. When I was left to my own devices, I would come home with my 2-liter bottle of water still pretty full, so eventually, they sent me to school with diluted drinks to encourage increased fluid intake. It worked like a charm and was the beginning of my love for the blackcurrant concentrate Ribena. My water was now mixed with a drink that I liked. Hydrating felt more like a treat than a chore, and I was finishing my 2 liters consistently.
Try out different mixtures or perhaps fruit-infused water recipes.
Smaller, attainable goals
As I grew older, my parents stopped using sweet drinks to incentivize me; they found it easier to encourage me to drink water by breaking up the amount I drink into smaller portions. Instead of having the huge, daunting goal of drinking 2 liters of water in a day, they would divide that amount into smaller, 500-mL bottles.
Trying out different hydration technologies
There are phone apps, seltzer makers, hydration challenge bottles, and more that encourage boosted water intake through reminders, competitive play, and simply making hydration more convenient or fun. Find a list of ideas here.
Now that I am even older and my health is mainly my responsibility, I know the importance of staying hydrated. I don’t need to be bribed or coerced into doing what is best for me. At times, I still indulge in the occasional diluted drink, but I no longer deem it necessary for me to meet my daily water goal.
I encourage you to research the various effects hydration and dehydration have on your body. Taking water seriously won’t seem so hard when you realize the domino effects of water deprivation.
If you have sickle cell, I would love to hear how you got into the habit of drinking water. If you are a parent of a child with sickle cell, how did you encourage the habit? Please share in the comments below.
Note: Sickle Cell Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell disease.