Staying Hydrated in the Summer Heat

Beat the heat and stay healthy by drinking more water.

Summer brings sunshine, higher temperatures and a greater chance of dehydration. As your activity and time spent outside increase, make sure you’re getting enough water.

Water’s proven benefits

Here’s a fun fact: Your body is composed of 65% water, most of it located within your cells. The benefits of a hydrated system :

  • Regulating your temperature
  • Helping the kidneys to function and remove toxins
  • Keeping your skin supple
  • Lubricating joints and muscles
  • Enhancing your mood
  • Avoiding kidney stones

“Sun exposure increases risk of kidney stones due to both dehydration and from changes in calcium metabolism through vitamin D production,” explains Mike M. Nguyen, MD, MPH, associate professor of clinical urology at the USC Institute of Urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Staying hydrated is the most important lifestyle change in lowering the risk of stones and can lower the risk of future stones by 50%.”

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That’s why having enough fluids in your body is so important — your body can’t function at peak capacity without it.

Replenish your fluids

As the weather heats up, your body starts to sweat to regulate its temperature. In all, you have 2.6 million sweat glands working to keep you cool by releasing fluids through your pores. It’s important to replenish this fluid loss by drinking plenty of water.

The amount of water that is right for your body depends on several factors. The U.S. National Research Council recommends drinking eight ounces of water, 8 to 10 times a day. Eight ounces  Another way to calculate the right amount is to divide your body weight in half (using pounds), then drink that many ounces. And listen to your body. Even if you’re working out in the water, you’re still sweating.

Signs of dehydration

Pay attention to the signs of dehydration and increase your water intake as needed to avoid serious issues. These signs include:

  • Dark urine — urine will be darker in color when dehydrated
  • Headaches or muscle cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Less urination
  • Light-headedness
  • Constipation

Hydrate your life

Think of hydration as a lifestyle change. Take a full water bottle with you everywhere: to work, to school, in the car and to the park. Drink water with every meal. Start and end your day with a glass of water. If you commit to these slight changes, you can quickly increase your water intake and stave off the effects of dehydration.

by Heidi Tyline King

Are you having issues with dehydration? There are nutrition programs to help. Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to learn more. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, make an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting http://www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/.