Prevent Dehydration in Adults after Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery

Water is an essential nutrient in our diet. It can be a challenge to prevent dehydration in adults after bariatric weight loss surgery because the new small stomach pouch has a limited capacity to hold fluids. Another issue for a bariatric patient is the need to wait 30 minutes after eating before having something to drink.
We lose water every day as water vapor when we breathe, and as sweat, urine and stool. Nearly all body processes depend on water for proper functioning and to prevent dehydration, which happens when fluid loss exceeds the amount taken in through drinking.

When you acknowledge that you’re thirsty, your body is already suffering from fluid loss. Many conditions can cause rapid and continued fluid loss and lead to dehydration, including:

  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and increased urination
  • The inability to take in an appropriate amount of fluids

Dehydration signs and symptoms in adults

  • Thirst (to increase water intake) and decreased urine output (to try to conserve water)
  • Dark yellow, concentrated urine
  • Dry mouth and swollen tongue
  • Confusion, palpitations, weakness, dizziness and fainting
  • As fluid loss increases, more symptoms can become apparent, such as:
    • Increased thirst
    • Tear production stops
    • Sweating stops
    • Muscle cramps
    • Nausea

Dehydration treatment for adults

An adult showing dehydration signs and symptoms should try to take in two quarts of fluid over 2 to 4 hours by:

  • Continuously sipping small amounts of water
  • Drinking beverages that contain electrolytes, like Pedialyte and Gatorade G2
  • Eating sugar-free popsicles
  • Receiving IV fluids (may be necessary if dehydration is severe)

After bariatric weight loss surgery, you can drink water and sugar-free/diet beverages. The recommended goal for fluid intake is around 64 ounces each day. You can also calculate the amount of fluid you need by dividing your weight by two, with the result being the number of ounces you need. For example, someone who weighs 180 pounds needs 90 ounces of fluid per day (180/2=90).

You should avoid carbonated, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks because:

  • Carbonated drinks can cause discomfort due to the small stomach pouch
  • Caffeine interferes with calcium absorption, which is at risk for deficiency after weight loss surgery, and it’s also a mild diuretic
  • Alcohol decreases production of an anti-diuretic hormone that’s used by the body to reabsorb water, and drinking too much can cause vomiting

Caution is also advised for energy drinks that contain stimulants or other ingredients with possible adverse side effects.

A hot, Texas summer presents challenges after bariatric weight loss surgery, and you should remain aware of dehydration signs and symptoms. Making an effort to drink water and other fluids to slow fluid loss is essential to prevent dehydration in adults after bariatric weight loss surgery and maintain good nutrition.