With temperatures forecast to climb into the mid-30s in parts of the UK on Friday, staying hydrated is extremely important.
Warm weather can pose a number of health risks, including heatstroke and sunburn, but dehydration is one of the most common heat related conditions.
How much water should we drink?
Everyone should drink three litres of water per day, according to a leading surgeon. Bhaskar Somani also believes a “radical culture change” towards the consumption of water is required to help the country stay hydrated during the heatwave.
Somani (who is a consultant urological surgeon at University Hospital Southampton HS Foundation Trust) said attitudes towards water consumption “remained poor” even among those at higher risk of health problems.
Negative attitudes towards hydration
A study of 162 patients who received treatment for kidney stones – a condition for which poor hydration is a significant risk factor – at Southampton General Hospital found less than a third (28 per cent) increased their water intake.
The average amount consumed by those surveyed amounted to just 1.5 litres per day. This was despite all patients receiving advice after treatment on the need to drink between 2.5 and three litres per day, particularly during the summer months.
Almost a quarter (22 per cent) said the reason for avoiding water was due to disliking the taste, while 26 per cent blamed their habits and a further 10 per cent said they only drank water when thirsty.
“If those are the views of people in a high-risk group, what is the feeling among those who have no current health risks which could be aided by better hydration?” Said Somani.
A growing health problem
Somani’s team have seen a rise in the number of patients admitted to hospital with renal colic (a pain associated with kidney stones) and stone formation over the past three weeks, but illnesses related to dehydration don’t stop there.
“Emergency departments are seeing large numbers of elderly patients who are dehydrated, along with outdoor workers who are battling the heat during the hottest parts of the day,” he explained.
“Many of the problems tie in with poor fluid intake.”
The NHS recommends drinking 1.2 litres of water per day (six to eight glasses), but Somani believes as much as three litres is needed daily, especially in warm weather.
You can have too much of a good thing, however, and drinking more water than your body can process in a short space of time can pose a serious health risk.
Excess water consumption can dilute the electrolytes in your blood, a symptom called Hyponatremia when it reaches dangerous levels.
Medical News Today recommends that an adult does not drink more than one litre of water per hour.