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The Influence Of An Insufficient Intake Of Fluids On The Female Organism

( Originally Published 1923 )

MANY women are in the habit of taking too little fluid. Not a few women practically never drink any liquid, not even during meals. As a rule, there is present in these women a condition of weakness of the thyroid gland which we have already described as occurring during, before, or after the climacteric years. In overactivity of the thyroid gland, as in Graves's disease, or in diabetes mellitus, thirst is, on the other hand, one of the characteristic clinical features. There are some women, however, who fail to drink fluid from motives of personal vanity, believing that fluid would make them stout. Now it is certainly not true that drinking water is fattening, otherwise poor people would have long since adopted this device; it is true, how-ever, that if a person eats heartily and drinks much fluid at the same time, a corresponding amount of chyme results and is absorbed into the blood. But if the quantity of fluid taken is insufficient, a correspondingly smaller amount of chyme is dissolved, and digestive disturbances may result.

Inadequate drinking of fluids is also attended with the great disadvantage that the waste-products set free in the processes of tissue interchange, such as uric acid, cannot be brought into solution and eliminated from the body. These substances then make their way out through the skin surface, mean-while giving rise to a troublesome eruption over the face and a muddy complexion. The skin of women who never or seldom drink water is, furthermore, very dry and coarse, and as a result of its dryness lines and wrinkles are readily formed. To impart to the skin a smooth, healthy appearance, the body juices which supply it with nutriment must be abundantly present in its tissues, and to this end a sufficient amount of fluid, in the form of drinking water, must be taken.

According to my observations in numerous patients with gall-stones in Carlsbad, the very great majority of them drank water but seldom, previous to the onset of the disease. I also had occasion to note that most of these women had for years been suffering from constipation. This leads, in turn, to stasis of the bile, which favors an inflammatory condition of the biliary passages and thus leads to gall stone disease. The constipation is thus the underlying cause of this condition, and the former, in turn, is the result of the insufficient intake of fluids.

I had occasion to observe among my patients in Carlsbad that the women who had never or but seldom drunk water before the treatment were generally troubled with constipation. This fact is also readily understood. The fecal masses in the intestine, in order that they may continue on their down-ward course, require a sufficient amount of fluid; otherwise condensation of these masses and difficulty at stool are easily induced. Yet there is every reason for women to avoid all influences that might lead to constipation. From the very fact of their different anatomic structure as compared to the male subject and the special physiologic functions of their reproductive organs, women are greatly predisposed to constipation.

There is practically no sort of disturbance in the female sexual sphere which is not accompanied by constipation.

The pride of personal appearance implanted in women with remarkable forethought by nature rather a virtue in their sex should forcibly bring to their minds the importance of this question. Nothing is capable of so harming a good complexion and a youthful appearance as constipation persisting for a number of days. The easiest remedy for this condition, on the other hand, is to drink enough water, and in particular to take a glass of fresh, cold water the first thing in the morning. Often this simple measure gives better results than many a purgative drug, over which it possesses, furthermore, the advantage of being a harmless and use-fully operating remedy which certainly cannot be said of purgatives, especially when taken at short intervals.

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