Hydration… a bit off a buzzword these days, especially within the realm of fitness. In media advertising I’ve noticed that, generally, staying hydrated is overstated and exploited to sell sports drinks. However, for people with CF this is not the case and drinking fluids should be an integral part of your healthcare regimen.
A healthy level of water in your system reduces the viscosity of mucous in the lungs. If you use hypertonic saline as a therapy, the saline will draw water out of your blood into the lungs and this needs replacing. Our kidneys need special attention too. IV antibiotics are especially tough on the kidneys so maintaining hydration will help them do their job.
Exercise is important for CF sufferers and it makes you sweat. Since my transplant in 2013, I started cycling to fight the side effects of the immune suppresants on my legs and to get my new lungs breathing hard.
In Queensland during the summer, this means replacing water AND salt. I prefer to make my own drinks to take with me instead of using commercial sports drinks. The reason I do this is to customise the ingredients depending on the ride and how much I might sweat. Sports drinks also contain potassium, which my kidneys aren’t the best at regulating so I want to avoid it if possible. In summer I will use 1/2 metric teaspoon, heaped, a scoop of magnesium powder (potassium free) and cordial to make up 1 litre of my sports drink.
If I start getting cramps during the season I’ll increase my salt intake, but not the magnesium. I will usually take two 1 litre bottles out with me and finish them on a 2-3 hour ride. Diabetes is another factor I have to consider. Usually the cordial in the drink isn’t enough to match my long acting insulin dose so I take glucose lollies with me. I check my BSL 30 minutes into the ride, then as necessary depending on what my levels are doing.
Everyone is different so I recommend talking to your doctors and monitoring your blood test results if your intend to exercise vigorously.