The Balancing Act of Hydration

Summer is here again and it is time to consider that dehydration is common in older people. While it may not be easy to distinguish between the effects of dehydration and any underlying illness, dehydration is associated with increased hospitalisation and mortality. Water balance is essential to health regardless of a person's age but dehydration is harder to detect in older people and age-related changes result in worse outcomes compared with the rest of the adult population. In older people, adequate hydration has also been associated with benefits such as reducing the risk of falls and constipation. As we age, physiological changes occur that make the body less able to maintain homeostasis and affect water and salt balance.

Oral fluid replacement is preferred to parenteral fluid replacement (subcutaneous/intravenous) or nasogastric feeding in the absence of severe symptoms and when fluids can be restored gradually over time.

Oral rehydration solutions or ice-blocks that contain appropriate amounts of electrolytes (eg, Hydralyte, Gastrolyte) may help treat mild dehydration.

Sports drinks do not necessarily contain enough electrolytes to be an adequate substitute for oral rehydration solutions, and they often have a high sugar content.

Read more on the importance of hydration and how you can prevent and redress dehydration during this hot Australian Summer or complete the education modules below.

Source:, Monday 8 December 2014


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