Drink Up: The Importance of Preventing Dehydration in Parkinson’s

Jo Gambosi avatar

by Jo Gambosi |

Share this article:

Share article via email
overcome obstacles | Parkinson's News Today | hero | A banner image for Jo Gambosi's column

As a resident of Arizona, in the Valley of the Sun, as the Phoenix metro area is known, I am familiar with how quickly one can become dehydrated. Scorching summertime desert temperatures can spike above 100 degrees, prompting residents to reach for water frequently, and making Arizona one of the largest drinking water consumers in the nation.

My sister Bev, who lives in Ohio and has stage 3 Parkinson’s disease (PD), sometimes complains of dizziness and feeling weak and nauseated. She also experiences low blood pressure at times. But she is not a fan of consuming water!

When she visited me in 2019, I noticed that she rarely drank much water. Lukewarm coffee was her beverage of choice, even at 9 p.m.! (Apparently, caffeine doesn’t keep her awake.)

Recommended Reading
TDP-43 a possible cause of Parkinson's disease | Parkinson's News Today | illustration of brain

High-dose Cranberry Juice Shows Potential to Protect Brain Cells

I suggested that she was now in a desert environment where it’s dry, and “you don’t even know when you are sweating because of low humidity.” It was easy to become dehydrated. I personally experienced heat exhaustion, and it was not pleasant. I also mentioned that not being hydrated enough may be part of the reason for her dizziness and weakness, in addition to other contributing factors.

Sherri Woodbridge, a former columnist for Parkinson’s News Today, shared her personal experience with being overheated and dehydrated:

“During my last visit to the neurologist, my Medtronic rep for deep brain stimulation was talking to me, coincidentally, about how important it is to stay hydrated with a disease like Parkinson’s. He said the body is made up of approximately 60 percent water, and the brain 75 percent. For the brain to be healthy, it needs water. Lots and lots of water.”

People with Parkinson’s can easily become dehydrated due to a number of factors. Lack of thirst, difficulty swallowing, and certain medications may also cause nausea and decrease the person’s desire to drink more water.

According to the Neurology Solutions Movement Disorders Center, “Dehydration in Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a major concern because the risks associated with becoming dehydrated can significantly worsen already compromised neurological function.”

Being dehydrated can decrease cognitive function and balance, cause an unsteady gait, and increase dry skin in people with PD who may already have these challenges.

Bev and I discussed some tips she could follow to increase her hydration. She claims she doesn’t really like water, so I suggested she try fruit-flavored popsicles (without sugar) or flavored water; taking sips with her meals, which would also help with her occasional swallowing issues; increasing her intake of veggies (fortunately, she loves peas); and putting a glass of water next to her while watching TV, and then alternating sips between coffee and water.

I will be headed to Ohio this summer to visit her. I’ll check to see how well she is doing with increasing her swigs of H2O. Maybe I should bribe her with a glass of sangria as a reward?

Note: Parkinson’s News Today 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 another 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 Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Beth T Browne avatar

Beth T Browne

This article hit home. Now at 85, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 kidney disease shortly before being diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 81. I have never been a water drinker. Moved to a new location. Had to find new doctors. The first one over looked two six month blood tests that showed numbers to be concerned about. Another doctor picked up on it. I was told to increased my water and I could get out of Stage 3. I was doing fine until recently, so next test will see. I drink tea, one cup of coffee, occasionally a ginger ale, and orange juice. Anyway, I did not know Parkinson could make it worse, so glad to see this article.

Francis Beswick avatar

Francis Beswick

Thanks for this good advice.I have stage 1 Parkinson's and am trying to take as much care of myself as I can

Lori DePorter avatar

Lori DePorter

I have found using a marked waterbottle throughout the day is helpful. You can read more tips here http://parkinsonsnewstoday.com/2021/06/17/national-smoothie-day-diet-hydration-nutrition/.

Be well...stay hydrated!


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.