Ask the Expert: How Does Hydration Impact Our Risk of Getting Sick or Fighting Off Illness?

A woman lying on her side in bed, surrounded by crumpled tissues and blowing her nose into one.

Staying hydrated can give you a leg up on fighting off some illnesses like the common cold or maybe the flu. Proper hydration is a critical part to your overall health. Water and other healthy hydrating drinks help bodily fluids carry immune cells throughout your body to get where they need to fight infection.

"Staying well hydrated keeps blood flowing to our organs. The white cells in blood help fight infections, as do proteins in the blood, such as antibodies," says Joshua Thurman, M.D. "The body's ability to fight off infections is helped by rest, fitness, nutrition, and hydration. Hydration helps us stay healthy and recover more quickly if we do become ill."

Additional Benefits of Hydration on Illness

According to Abbott, other benefits of proper hydration include lowering fevers, lessening headaches, moisturizing membranes, and better use of nutrients.

Water regulates your body's core temperature. Mild fevers can help eliminate infection, but dehydration can make a high or long-lasting fever worse.

Because the brain is about 80 percent water, proper hydration can help lessen headache pain. Dehydration affects blood volume. If your brain isn't getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs, the result can be dizziness and headaches.

Hydration keeps the mucous membranes in your nose and mouth moist so they can effectively expel bacteria and viruses when you're coughing, sneezing, and breathing. Moisture also helps heal broken membranes so additional bacteria don't get into your body.

Your gastrointestinal tract can better absorb and use nutrients from food when there's enough water in your system. When essential nutrients are available to the cells in your body, it can do a better job recovering from illness.

Staying hydrated also keeps the urine flowing, which reduces the number of bacteria in the urinary tract and lessens your chances of a urinary tract infection.

"Although staying well hydrated may not keep you from getting sick, being dehydrated may make it harder for your body to fight infections — it can make you more likely to get sick," says Dr. Thurman.

Keep on top of your hydration and your health with help from the world’s smartest water bottles. HidrateSpark smart water bottles together with the HidrateSpark App track your water intake and remind you to stay hydrated. Use the App to create your profile with basic information and it will help you drink the necessary amount of water each day. For added protection from illness, try WAVE Immune Support immune system booster in your water. 


Dr. Joshua Thurman, MD is a board-certified nephrologist and Professor of Medicine specializing in renal medical diseases and hypertension at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He received his medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and his undergraduate degree from Harvard University. He has been in practice for more than 22 years.

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