What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune, chronic condition that causes inflammation in your bowel (type of inflammatory bowel disease/IBD); it is fully incurable (symptoms can be controlled).1
There are various symptoms that are associated with Crohn’s disease, and it affects individuals of any age group (most of the diagnosed individuals are less than 30 years of age). However, some of the more common or main symptoms can be:
- Diarrhoea (usually persistent)
- Constipation (this can lead to bowel obstruction)
- Frequent stomach aches & cramps
- Weight loss
- Fatigue (getting tired easily)
If there is blood in your stool, it is advised by the NHS to see your local General Practitioner, as they can help to either relieve your symptoms or help get you diagnosed.2
Why is it important to stay hydrated?
The human body requires water and hydration to be able to function normally. Being well-hydrated is extremely important to help regulate body temperature, prevent infections, and ensure the right nutrients for the body. It is also extremely important for kidney function and helps with brain performance (tension headaches are usually a sign of dehydration). Experts recommend drinking roughly 11 glasses of water per day for the average people assigned female at birth (AFAB) and 16 glasses for the average people assigned male at birth (AMAB).3
What are the symptoms of dehydration?
If you are worried you might be suffering from dehydration, below are a few of the most common symptoms of dehydration:
- Having a headache
- Being tired/exhausted
- Having dry mouth/lips
- Dark yellow urine + passing small amounts
Can Crohn’s disease cause dehydration?
Our bodies are mostly made up of water (just under two-thirds of the body is rough water in both males and females).4 Reduced levels of water in the body can lead to several complications or cause other issues, such as kidney stones.
So how are Crohn’s disease and dehydration linked? As previously mentioned, Crohn’s disease can cause inflammation in your bowel. This inflammation can cause a disruption in your body regulating water reabsorption (ensuring the body regulates its fluid properly). It is most commonly associated with the kidney, which is why kidney failure is extremely fatal. However, with regard to the small intestine and colon, which is relevant to Crohn’s disease, it is important that water is properly reabsorbed into these organs. When this process is disrupted, as the colon and small intestine are involved in part of this process, you can lose more water in your stool (poo) as less amount is reabsorbed. This contributes to dehydration, as less water is re-entering the body.
How to stay hydrated when living with Crohn’s disease?
To monitor the fluid levels (hydration) when you have Crohn’s disease, you should make sure to drink slightly more than the recommended amount of water for those without the disease (at least 8 glasses of water for those without Crohn's). This is because those with inflammatory bowel disease are more prone to dehydration.
Some other tips to avoid or monitor dehydration when living with Crohn’s disease are:
- Avoid caffeine
- Carry a water bottle around with you
- Monitor your pee - if it’s dark yellow and has a strong smell, it likely indicates you could be dehydrated
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Reduce the level of salt intake (avoid processed foods) and consume more of foods with essential body salts such as avocado, banana etc.
While Crohn's disease is a chronic condition, it is usually quite manageable and is something that can be looked after individually, especially in terms of staying hydrated. This ensures symptoms you have of Crohn’s disease do not worsen by further complications from being dehydrated. If you are concerned about how to manage your condition, ensure that you contact your local GP (General Practitioner) if any symptoms have changed and would like to seek further general advice (especially if you have not been diagnosed yet).
- Wales NHS. Nhs wales | chronic conditions [Internet]. 2006 [cited 2022 Oct 27]. Available from: https://www.wales.nhs.uk/healthtopics/conditions/chronicconditions.
- Crohn’s disease [Internet]. NHS.UK. 2017 [cited 2022 Oct 27]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/crohns-disease/.
- Boston 677 Huntington Avenue, Ma 02115 +1495‑1000. The importance of hydration [Internet]. News. 2017 [cited 2022 Oct 27]. Available from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/the-importance-of-hydration/.
- Water Science School. The Water in You: Water and the Human Body [Internet]. USGS, Science for a changing world, U.S. Department of interior. 2019. Available from: https://www.usgs.gov/special-topics/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-and-human-body