Close-up of a mouth drinking a glass of water.

IBD and the Dehydration Struggle

Having Crohn’s disease for over 14 years has taught me that I am fighting an uphill battle. Because I go to the bathroom over 12 times a day, I get dehydrated much quicker than people that don’t have an overactive j-pouch. Especially when you mix together hot weather temperatures, and the loss of essential vitamins and minerals to stay hydrated, it becomes a very difficult "constant" process. It is also something I worry about constantly.

Why I can't drink hydration "sport" drinks

Recently I have been running 3 to 4 times a week at our gym in our complex. I do work up quite a sweat, which makes me lose a lot of electrolytes. Yes, I do drink water, but I do stay away from Gatorade and Powerade. These drinks really make me run to the bathroom. I started to really do some research on electrolyte replenishment drinks that are geared towards sensitive stomachs. My wife, who also has a very mild case of ulcerative colitis, has joined me on the search for the best thirst quencher. We often joke around that we are constantly playing catch-up with our bodies. We are always so dehydrated.

The easy fix is to take a drink of the usual "thirst quenchers" that we all know. These popular drinks replace the electrolytes that one has lost. What a lot of us, (not me), forget is that these drinks have a lot of high fructose corn syrup in them. This is an irritant to the stomach, especially for many of us who have IBD. Then it makes you go to the bathroom, causing more dehydration. The cycle just keeps going and going. Yes, it is vicious.

We came across a powdered drink (you just add water) that apparently is vegan, has no fructose syrup, and it is gluten-free. It also has the equivalent hydration of three bottles of water in one packet of powder. I make sure to have one every day, just to try to stay ahead of the curve of being dehydrated.

My signs of dehydration with Crohn's

I know that If I start getting a headache, that means that I have the onset of dehydration. I also know that if my mouth and tongue are dry, that is a telling sign. There was a time when I was not replacing the electrolytes in my body. I would get terrible cramps and muscle spasms in my legs and arms. My heart would race, and I would actually run to the bathroom even more.

Tips for electrolyte drinks and hydrating

Avoid sugary and sweet drinks such as Gatorade/Powerade. Find ones that are dairy-free. Dairy in the powdered drink form can cause issues for your stomach. It can be a lot of trial and error.

Don’t chug what you're drinking, especially if it is ice cold. This makes you go to the bathroom quicker.

And don't wait until it is too late! Stay hydrated! In the summer months especially if it is hot and humid out, make sure you replace the electrolytes before you lose them. Start early in the morning. Listen to your body!

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