Hydration and its effects on asthma

Hydration in Asthma

“Water is an essential nutrient; moreover, it is the most abundant compound in the human body.”1

There is a lot of talk about hydration and especially if you have mucous issues and need to everything moving. I set myself out on a fact-finding mission, to learn more about hydration and airway epithelium and, why hydration is so crucial in our lungs. I needed to start at the beginning, what is the function of our lungs. The basic function of our lungs is to enable “efficient gas exchange between a complex inner aqueous body system and a dry outside atmosphere.”1

Hydration and lungs

Next steps were to delve a bit deeper into figuring out how scientist actually figure out what the hydration status of our lungs actually is, and why it is important.

As described in the paper by Karhoff the “movement of fluid between the airspaces, interstitium, and vascular compartments in the lungs play an important physiological role in the maintenance of hydration and protection of the lung epithelium and significantly contributes to a proper airway clearance.”1 I also learned that the epithelial cells lining the bronchi and alveoli have the ability to secrete and reabsorb fluid actively. There is a thin layer of airway surface liquid, it provides an environment for humidification of inspired air and captures foreign substances and makes mucociliary clearance easier.4

The theories are that hydrated airways are essential for good mucociliary clearance. If you have any mucous issues like I do, this is especially important. It is important to maintain this status in our airways. While more research is needed on exact mechanisms and how to maintain the perfect balance of hydration.5 There is some consensus amongst scientific committees that having a high fluid intake is important for bronchopulmonary disorders although more research is needed.6

So, how do we know if we are hydrated and how can we stay hydrated?

Tips for staying hydrated

To keep your body hydrated, aim for a fluid intake of about:

  • 3 L 12 cups) for men 19 years old and over each day
  • 2.2 L (9 cups) for women 19 years old and over each day.

Fluids include water and other beverages such as milk, juice, broth or soups, coffee, and tea. Water is one of the best fluid choices, but it is a myth that you need 8 cups a day to stay healthy.7

Be mindful to the sign and symptoms of mild hydration and dehydration.

You can become dehydrated even before signs appear. Therefore, it is important to drink fluids regularly, even before you feel thirsty.7

Other tips to remind you to drink are to drink water before you go to bed and when you wake up, keep fresh water on your desk or where you work, carry water with you throughout the day, make sure you drink before each meal.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
View References
  1. Kalhoff, H. 2003. Mild dehydration: A risk factor of broncho-pulmonary disorders? European journal of clinical nutrition 57, (12): S81-7
  2. Gabriel SE & Boucher RC (1997): Ion channels. In The Lung. Scientific Foundations. 2nd Edition, eds. RG Crystal, JB West, pp 305–318. Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven Publishers.
  3. Manz, Friedrich, and Andreas Wentz. 2005. The importance of good hydration for the prevention of chronic diseases. Nutrition reviews 63, (6) (06): S2-5, http://libproxy.uwinnipeg.ca/login?
  4. Moloney E, O'Sullivan S, Hogan T, Poulter LW, Burke CM. Airway dehydration: a therapeutic target in asthma? Chest. 2002;121:1806-1811.
  5. Guidelines for staying hydrated communication. Dietitians Canada https://www.dietitians.ca/getattachment/becace49-3bad-4754-ac94-f31c3f04fed0/FACTSHEET-Guidelines-staying-hydrated.pdf.aspx