Nursing shifts may vary from one case to another, but whatever circumstances there is, everything spells the same – busy.
I hurry from meeting to meeting. I sit with my supervisor and talk over our plans for the new research project. I visit with multiple patients in a row, asking them if they are interested in enrolling in our study. I finally return to my desk after being gone for over 4 hours. My lips are cracked. My head aches. My mouth feels dry. I reach for my jug of water and gulp the refreshing liquid in. I am extremely thirsty. I am dehydrated.
Many nurses struggle their health with dehydration. While the story above is an example from my current role, I used to come up against this hardship almost daily on the floor. I was busy taking care of my patients, speaking to families, answering doctor’s calls, running charge, meeting with my boss, etc. I was also worried about when the next time I might get a chance to use the restroom. At times, I didn’t want to overdo it with the water!
Effects of Dehydration
Staying thirsty and dehydrated is all too common and too dangerous. When we are dehydrated – and I am sure we have all felt this at one time or another – we may notice various symptoms like headache, blurred vision, irritability, mood swings, and fatigue. Once the dehydration gets worse, things like decreased blood pressure, dizziness, and even fainting can occur.
Do you ever think about how getting dehydrated at work is affecting you? Did you ever notice that during the afternoon you may get snappier with your co-workers? Or maybe towards the middle of your shift you are purely exhausted or weak? How about feeling light-headed and dizzy while on the job?
This is not something we want to go through as nurses, because then our patients might have to turn around and take care of us as we fall over onto them!
Some ways that you can combat the possibility of another nursing shift of dehydration:
- Drink more water. You might be saying, “Well, duh! Of course I should be drinking more water, but how much is enough?” Many people are not sure of the amount of water they should be taking in. Or a lot of folks say “Sure, I drink two glasses of water a day… I drink water.” What you want to aim for is half of your body weight in ounces of water. So if you weigh 150 pounds you aim for 75 ounces of water per day. As with anything else, listen to your body. This is just a recommendation to aim for.
- Carry a water bottle with you. Instead of remembering at lunch or on break or whenever you might happen to see a cup lying around, make a commitment to carry around your own water bottle. That way you can continuously be sipping on it throughout your day and refilling it more often than if you were to wait to drink that “one glass of water.”
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