Staying Hydrated during Cancer Treatment

It is important to stay hydrated throughout your treatment. Dehydration can be due to multiple reasons including not drinking enough fluids, a loss of fluids such as from diarrhea or vomiting, or from certain medications like diuretics.

Tips for Hydration

  • Aim to drink at least eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of fluid per
  • For basic hydration and if you are not losing fluids (diarrhea or vomiting), aim to drink water, tea, broth, or coconut water. Electrolyte beverages are best for people who are experiencing fluid losses.
  • Sip on your beverage throughout the day if you don’t like drinking your beverage in large volumes.
  • Keep a water bottle on you. A water bottle with a straw can help get in more
  • Add flavor to your water. Make it taste better by adding a squeeze of fresh lemon, lime, or orange. Try some cucumber slices or fresh herbs such as mint, basil, or lemongrass.

Symptoms of Dehydration

  • Extreme thirst    
  • Dry skin, mouth, lips, or tongue
  • Muscle cramps    
  • Smaller volume of urine
  • Headache    
  • Dark-colored urine (e.g., dark yellow or light brown)

Fluids and Electrolytes

Dehydration and fluid losses can lead to low levels of important electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. It is important to replace these fluid loses to maintain hydration.

  • If you have diarrhea: Drink 1 cup of fluid after each episode of diarrhea, in addition to the recommended 8 to 10 cups of fluid daily.
  • Sip on liquids throughout the day, drinking most of your liquids between meals.
  • Replace electrolytes by choosing foods and liquids high in sodium and potassium:
    • Sodium: Broth, soup, salted crackers and pretzels, and salted mashed potatoes
    • Potassium: Bananas, potatoes without the skin, fruit juices without pulp and added sugars, and coconut water
Type Beverages to Choose Beverages to Avoid
Clear Liquids: Non-carbonated
  • Tap water, bottled water,
  • Decaffeinated tea (e.g., chamomile, ginger, hibiscus, rose, etc.),
  • Broth, bone broth
  • Well water
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee
  • Caffeinated tea (e.g., green, black, Earl Grey, etc.),
  • Juice
Clear Liquids: Carbonated
  • Caffeine-free beverages
  • Club soda
  • Mountain Valley Sparkling Water®, Sound®
  • Caffeine
  • Topo Chico®
  • Beer, alcohol
  • Sugary soda
  • Energy drinks
Electrolyte Beverages
  • Coconut water
  • Broth
  • Pedialyte Advanced Care®, DripDrop®, Ensure Rapid Hydration®, Liquid I.V. ®, and Nuun® sport
  • Gatorade® (high sugar, low electrolytes)>
Milk-based Beverages
  • Milk
  • Soy milk
  • Fortified milk beverages (almond, oat, etc.)
  • Oral supplement (Ensure®, Boost®, Orgain®, Kate Farms®)
  • Low protein, low calorie beverages if weight loss noted

When to contact your doctor or call 911:

  • Uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea more than 3-5 times in 24 hours
  • Unable to keep fluids down
  • Fever of 4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your medical provider
  • Decrease in how often you urinate and have very dark colored urine
  • Extreme weakness, dizziness, confusion
  • Large amount of blood in diarrhea or vomit