You Can Combat the Heat by Staying Hydrated

When the temperatures rise your body may experience an uptick in sweat production. Learn about the role hydration plays in this important body function.

Sweat is sometimes uncomfortable, but it’s also a normal body function that serves to regulate our body temperature. As a person’s body temperature rises, the sweat glands kick in to produce more sweat. In order to maintain normal body temperature, as well as a healthy body, we need to be hydrated to account for the increased fluid loss during the warmer seasons of the year.

Are you drinking enough water before your workout? What about enough water before you head off to work or school? Forgetting to drink water throughout the day can affect your hydration and cause several issues.

Here are some simple signs to look out for that you may not be getting enough water:

  • Bad Breath: Saliva helps to break down bacteria; when you’re low on saliva it has an adverse effect on your breath
  • Yellow urine: Urine is lighter when you are well hydrated
  • Headache / muscle cramps: Essential salts such as potassium and sodium are lost when you are dehydrated, this can cause headaches and muscle cramps (legs especially)
  • Fatigue: Dehydration may lead to increased muscle soreness and fatigue
  • Fewer tears: Dry eyes or reduced tear production may be signs of dehydration
  • Constipation: Lack of water impacts digestion, leading to hardened stool
  • Lightheadedness: Blood pressure drops and can lead to dizziness and lightheadedness

Not drinking enough water can produce a wide range of health concerns, so what can you do to stay hydrated during the heat?

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  • Know how much water you should be drinking daily:
    • US National Research Council recommends 1 mL (milliliter) of water for every calorie you eat. If you eat 2,000 calories, for example, it’s recommended you drink 2,000 mL.
  • Drink more water when you increase activity
  • Add flavor to your water naturally with fresh fruit or splashes of lemon or lime juice
  • Drink a glass of water with your meals
  • Keep a refillable water bottle at your desk at work — and use it
  • Use a 12-ounce glass instead of an 8-ounce glass at home for your water
  • Take water in your car when driving
  • Remember that caffeine dehydrates you. So if you drink any coffee or sodas you have to drink extra water.

Waiting until you’re thirsty to drink water is not a reliable approach to staying hydrated. If you’re experiencing thirst, you may already be dehydrated, so keep water nearby to keep yourself refreshed.

Need help in figuring out how much water and food you should be consuming each day? Schedule an appointment with a primary care physician.

If you are in the Los Angeles area and are looking for a new primary care physician, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting http://www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/.

by Sandy Dimas