The recent heatwave has had everyone struggling, but hot weather can be particularly gruelling when we’re poorly. Illness may mean our body temperature fluctuates, so we struggle with hot flushes. Children and those in their later years are less able to control their temperature through the body’s natural cooling systems, so may overheat more easily. And certain medications can add to the problems – diuretics and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications put strain on the kidneys, while anti-histamines reduce the body’s ability to sweat and cool off.
The issue isn’t just about feeling hot under the collar. When we’re feeling unwell it can be a struggle to drink enough water, even if it’s baking outside. Dehydration causes our blood to become ‘stickier’ so it doesn’t flow as easily around the body. That increases our risk of heart attack and stroke, and means our kidneys may not function as well as they should. At the same time, we may find we suffer with swollen ankles or hands because rising temperatures mean fluid leaks from our blood vessels and pools in our tissues. Constipation is another side effect of low fluid levels, which can leave us feeling uncomfortably bloated and sluggish. Low mood and irritability can be an unexpected outcome of dehydration, too.
Staying hydrated is the best defence against problems caused by the heat, so here are a few tips to help.
- Aim to have at least 1.5 litres – and ideally 2 litres – of fluids per day.
- Water is the best drink for the body, but herbal teas, squash and diluted juices all count.
- Don’t feel you need to drink big glasses at a time; regularly taking small sips may be easier for you to stomach.
- Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink, as you may already be low in fluids by this point.
- The colour of your urine is a good indicator of how hydrated you are – the paler the better.
Struggle to drink enough? Try these gorgeous glassfuls
Watermelon smoothie watermelon, apple, water, squeeze of lime, blended
Cucumber cooler cucumber, lemon juice, sparkling water, touch of agave syrup
Iced mint & lime tea mint tea, lime juice, fresh mint leaves, sparkling water
Cranberry chillers cranberry juice, sparkling water, frozen raspberries, basil leaves
Strawberry & watermelon slushie frozen watermelon, strawberry, lemon juice, blended
Rhubarb refresher mix the syrup from our Poached Rhubarb recipe with sparkling water
Blackberry bliss mix the syrup from our Poached Blackberries recipe with sparkling water