Recognizing and Treating Dehydration

Dehydration is a common side effect of mesothelioma treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation. In fact, research shows that the majority of cancer patients suffer from chronic low level dehydration, and this can become more severe with treatment. Many patients experience extreme nausea during and after treatment, and this makes it difficult for them to take in adequate fluids.

Symptoms of mild dehydration:

  • Increased thirst
  • Darker urine than usual

Symptoms of moderate dehydration:

  • Increased thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry eyes
  • Much darker urine than usual
  • Passing little to no urine for 8 or more hours
  • Dizziness upon standing or sitting up
  • Trouble swallowing dry food
  • Dry skin (dehydrated skin “tents” or stays up slightly when it is pinched)
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Sunken appearance to the eyes

Symptoms of severe dehydration:

  • Extremely dry mouth
  • Extremely dry eyes
  • Passing little to no urine for 12 or more hours
  • Lack of alertness or inability to think clearly
  • Feeling too weak or dizzy to stand
  • Passing out

Mild to moderate dehydration can usually be treated at home, simply by drinking more fluids. Some patients find it easier to drink cold or iced fluids. Fruits, vegetables, soups, popsicles, and other moist foods can also help. In most cases, treatment with I.V. fluids can remedy severe dehydration, though in some cases the patient will need to be admitted to the hospital for more extensive hydration.

Dehydration is especially a risk after a high fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. If you or a loved one encounter any of the above symptoms of severe dehydration, it is very important to seek emergency medical care immediately.