Best way to absorb water
October 10, 2022 10:50 PM   Subscribe

What steps can I take to maximize my body's absorption of water in the course of a day? I strongly suspect I have hyperthyroidism – I tried today to really keep up with hydration and have had over 12 litres of water. At times I have felt hydrated but at others have fell behind and felt very dehydrated. I am seeing my doctor about this ASAP – but in the mean time, how can I try to absorb as much water as possible?

Please assume I am asking my doctor about all of this and how best to treat this situation.

Today is the best I've felt in ages, and it seems I have ordinarily been very dehydrated lately. I want to take whatever steps I can to be more hydrated.

I've been drinking water all day at as continuous a rate as I can, but my stomach gets full and I think food interferes also. I read a scientific paper discussing absorbtion of water being mostly in the small intestine, linking it to stomach emptying. They suggested having food in the stomach slows stomach emptying. Having more water in the stomach speeds up stomach emptying apparently. So I'm trying to figure out when to eat and drink to best pace this? I also have a much higher appetite but eating large quantities of food will often cause unpleasant effects, I suspect related to blood being diverted to digesting things.

I also can't figure out what to do about sleeping. I wake up feeling awful and it takes hours and hours to recover.

Any other tips for managing this would be very welcome.
posted by lookoutbelow to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I am not a doctor.

Please do not drink 12 litres of water in a day until after you have talked to your doctor. Water intoxication/water overdose is an actual thing and it can kill you. I've known someone who nearly died of this (thinking he was following doctors orders to drink lots of water for a medical condition).

You're not SUPPOSED to absorb as much water as possible. Absorbing too much water puts your body out of balance and can make you die. Please be careful.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:02 PM on October 10, 2022 [47 favorites]

So I'm trying to figure out when to eat and drink to best pace this?

Try to listen to your body.

I also can't figure out what to do about sleeping. I wake up feeling awful and it takes hours and hours to recover.

What have you tried? Avoid caffeine, avoid all refined sugars (anything where the fiber has been processed out such as juice, alcohol, honey, maple syrup, sugar, etc.), avoid sweeteners (they confuse your taste buds), get more fresh air/exercise/sunshine, etc.

Hydration, hyperthyroidism

Are you getting enough fiber? Fiber holds water, it acts like a sponge. Imagine chewing white rice for 20 minutes. Now imagine chewing celery for 20 minutes. Which one is going to hold more water?

Are you getting enough electrolytes? The only time I wanted that much water was when I was in the 122F/50C desert in July. I was drinking water, drinking water, drinking water, saturated with water, saturated with water, still thirsty. That was when I learned about electrolytes. Electrolytes help the water stick. Try to get them from food.

I don't know anything about hyperthyroidism but I know that cruciferous vegetables are goitrogens.

Cruciferous vegetables are high in fiber and, at a skim (that matches my expectations) electrolytes. Conclusion: eat your greens.
posted by aniola at 11:25 PM on October 10, 2022

As a person who had it, it doesn't sound like hyperthyroidism at all if your chief complaint is about hydration.
posted by meowzilla at 11:31 PM on October 10, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I'm pre-diabetic and feeling persistently dehydrated is a thing. Definitely get yourself checked out. For me electrolytes (pedialyte) helps a lot. Agree with first comment though, don't drink that much water, it'll hurt you.
posted by Toddles at 11:50 PM on October 10, 2022 [4 favorites]

IANAD/IANYD but I'm very concerned. 12 litres of water in a day will flush a lot of the minerals you need to stay alive -- the other name to Google is hyponutremia -- so I'll add to the chorus warning against this. And also to the 'rehydration fluids' chorus: that's how severe dehydration is treated, with salt/sugar mix reflecting your internal waterways.

Severe thirst can also be attached to type-2 diabetes, ask your doctor about that.
posted by k3ninho at 11:59 PM on October 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This is the amount of water I've had listening to my body - i.e. drinking water when I'm thirsty. Obviously it's too much water. I'll be speaking to my doctor about this as soon as possible. It doesn't seem as though I should refrain from drinking water even though thirsty and feeling dehydrated when that leads to feeling far worse?

No caffeine or alcohol. I've been adding electrolytes but it appears what I've been using has sucralose so maybe that's bad.
posted by lookoutbelow at 12:17 AM on October 11, 2022

If you are concerned that thirst might be misleading you to drink too much water because of some underlying condition:
Another way of checking whether you are dehydrated is the colour of your pee.

As long as your pee is pale ("straw coloured") you are not dehydrated. If your pee is a strong yellow, or brown, you are either dehydrated or something else is wrong.

This assumes that you're not taking any vitamin supplements like vitamin B that turns pee yellow.
posted by Zumbador at 12:58 AM on October 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

Here is a memorable, intense description of diabetes by a nurse blogger. If you are capable of health anxiety don't read it. If you're the sort to want to know every last horrifying detail about how things work, it might interest you. link. The relevant bit is just that it's talking about how being super thirsty is a sign of diabetes. (I am not a health professional.)

Are you getting enough fiber from the foods you eat? If not, start there.
posted by aniola at 1:09 AM on October 11, 2022 [6 favorites]

Agree with the suggestions to get asap checked for diabetes. I am diabetic, and one of the symptoms of onset/untreated diabetes is raging thirst. Also feeling awful is, as are lots of other symptoms, some similar to hyperthyroidism.
posted by 15L06 at 1:15 AM on October 11, 2022 [6 favorites]

Here the Mayo Clinic list of symptoms for Diabetes Type 2 (this is the Kind adults get, Type 1 one is born with).
It does not contain scary, individual details, only symptoms and basic explanation.
There is also a link between thyroid disfunction and diabetes. Eg. I also have hypo-thyroidism, they do influence each other. But a good doctor can explain it better than i.
posted by 15L06 at 1:53 AM on October 11, 2022

Best answer: Nthing that if you're drinking 12 litres of water a day and still don't feel hydrated, your problem is not how to absorb more water, it's finding out as a matter of urgency why you're so thirsty that you're drinking 12 litres of water a day, which is an absolutely phenomenal amount (and potentially dangerous as others have said). Start adding rehydration salts to some of your drinks (you can get sports ones in tablet form which can be easier for large volumes than the small sachets you get for people with food poisoning). Move that doctor's appointment up to ASAP and expect a diabetes test.
posted by penguin pie at 3:22 AM on October 11, 2022 [5 favorites]

My regular, totally normal-for-me water intake daily is more than anyone I have ever talked to, and it's still less than you (closer to 10 liters a day). Why am I so thirsty? Because a drug I take to control symptoms of a neurological condition is a diuretic, and it makes me thirsty all the time. I also have a prescribed potassium supplement and have to make sure to eat a lot of salt in my diet, because this much water is too much water for a body's salt needs. It's not too much if you're knowledgeable and caring for your electrolyte balance, but it is if you're not.

Remember Terri Schiavo? She was over hydrated and had a cardiac event due to critically low potassium. This is very, very serious. So yes, go to a doctor, and take care of yourself in the meantime.

Even drinking half and half water and Gatorade is better for you right now. I also like the "Liquid IV" hydration powder for a little more oomph.
posted by phunniemee at 5:32 AM on October 11, 2022 [3 favorites]

I'm on a few medications and at least two of them cause dry mouth. My mouth is SO DRY. It's really unpleasant. I complained to my doctor about being dehydrated and she said that I am not dehydrated (I drink at least eight glasses of water a day, and probably up to three more glasses of miscellaneous beverages) just feel thirsty and there is a difference. I don't really know what to do with that (other than chew some sugarless gum, which does help a little.) Just providing some personal data.
posted by 41swans at 5:52 AM on October 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

My mother also had the dry mouth issue, and she used Biotene, and found it helped a lot.
posted by Ftsqg at 7:15 AM on October 11, 2022

Best answer: If you are dehydrated you need something like Pedialyte. Try out dry mouth mouthwash to see if it helps. You are drinking an astounding and alarming amount of water and if that’s what’s making you feel good there’s something very off and this is more of an urgent care situation than wait three months for a primary appointment situation. (I don’t know what your medical access is like, but please listen to everyone saying that you need to see someone very soon. Even if it means getting to an urgent care center.)
posted by Bottlecap at 7:23 AM on October 11, 2022 [6 favorites]

Please assume I am asking my doctor about all of this and how best to treat this situation.

I think if all your doctor has suggested so far is possible thyroid issues and drinking more, you night want to get a second opinion (or two). There are a lot of issues that can cause feelings of thirst and unrestful sleep (autoimmune stuff, in my case), and if your doctor hasn't mentioned any of that and started tests to rule these things out, it might be time to get more eyes on the problem.
posted by trig at 8:02 AM on October 11, 2022

Best answer: Today is the best I've felt in ages

Also, as someone with the aforementioned issues, I want to kind of warn about this feeling a little. At least in my experience, I've found that starting various kinds of treatment or initiatives made me feel better the first few times - sometimes it felt almost miraculous - but almost nothing has made an actual long-term or even medium-term difference. I don't know if it's a placebo effect or what, but do be wary of concluding too much from very initial reactions.

Anyway, good luck and I hope you find some effective treatment soon.
posted by trig at 8:07 AM on October 11, 2022

type 2 (this is the Kind adults get, Type 1 one is born with).

Nope. Type 1 iusually develops in childhood and is an auto-immune disease in which the immune system attacks the pancreas and it stops producing insulin. People are not born with diabetes. Type 1 can also develop in adulthood. I know two people who've developed type 1 in adulthood. You've probably heard of one, too.

Type 2 usually develops in adulthood and has lifestyle and diet factors that result in the body still producing insulin, but no longer responding to it in the same way.

One person I know who developed Type 1 diabetes in adulthood did say that the thing she remembered most from her time pre-diagnosis, was the terrible terrible thirst.

Honestly, if you're thirst is so bad that you're drinking 12 litres of water to relieve it, if you can't see your doctor today, I would go to an ER. This is serious enough that it is threatening you irreversible damage. If the descriptions of diabetes ring true, especially the symptoms of Type I, you might just go to the drugstore and buy whatever is required to check your blood sugar. The pharmacist can surely advise.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:17 AM on October 11, 2022 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I too think you should go to urgent care or the ER. This is not something you can wait on--your body is telling you that something is very wrong.
posted by purple_bird at 9:41 AM on October 11, 2022 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I consulted with the government Telehealth nurse service, who advised that waiting to tomorrow is probably okay. I do not have any increased urination, which appears to be characteristic of the diabetic crisis. I will focus today on electrolytes and moderate quantities. I will also raise all of these possibilities with my doctor as well. All of these answers are much appreciated and have raised my general alarm level a bit (reasonably! It's too much water!)
posted by lookoutbelow at 12:22 PM on October 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

Something to think about - have you had Covid? My sister developed Type 1 diabetes after having had Covid, and this is apparently sometimes a thing that happens.
posted by gudrun at 12:58 PM on October 11, 2022

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