Summer is here! And while it’s time to break out the flip-flops and enjoy the sunshine, it’s also a great time to start thinking about what you can do to keep your urinary tract healthy.
Heat causes the system of the body to react in different ways.
When you live in hot weather for a long period of time (such as living in Phoenix during summer), your body starts working harder just to maintain normal body temperature. The more heat stress you endure over time, the more likely it is that you will experience problems with your kidneys due to overexposure to heat stressors like high temperatures
The kidneys are the body’s filtration system: they filter out toxins and waste products from your blood, which then gets sent back out through your bladder as urine. When this process works properly, you probably don’t think about it much—but if something goes wrong with your kidneys or bladder, you’ll notice fast.
One of the ways that heat affects your kidneys is by causing them to work harder. Heat makes your blood vessels expand and contract more quickly, which means that your kidneys have to filter your blood faster than usual. This can lead to dehydration and an increased need for water or other fluids.
Heat also increases blood pressure, which can lead to a narrowing of blood vessels and reduced blood flow to the kidneys. This can decrease their ability to filter toxins from your body and cause kidney damage or failure.
When you sweat a lot during hot weather, there’s more fluid in your urine than normal—and this excess fluid can contribute to stone formation in your urinary tract.
So how do you take care of these important organs? Here are our top tips for keeping your urinary tract healthy this summer:
- Drink plenty of water. We all know that drinking water is good for us, but did you know that dehydration can actually cause kidney stones? That’s why it’s so important to drink plenty of water every day—and especially during the summer months when we tend to sweat more (and lose more electrolytes) than usual. You should aim for at least 64 ounces per day; if you exercise regularly or live in a hot climate or have other medical issues that make hydration difficult, double up on this amount!
- Avoid sugary drinks like soda and juice. These types of beverages tend to make us thirsty so we drink more—which leads us into dehydration territory again (and this time it could be worse). If possible try replacing these kinds of beverages with unsweetened tea or water with lemon slices (or cucumbers).
- Take it easy on alcoholic drinks. Alcohol can be a diuretic which means it will make you pee more often. If you are dehydrated and drink alcohol. Alcohol can irritate the lining of your bladder and kidneys, which can lead to increased frequency of urination, pain while urinating, and blood in the urine.
- Although the UVs make vitamin D and researchers found that vitamin D may help reduce the risk of overactive bladder (OAB), it is still important to wear sunscreen to protect yourself from sunburn. When you get sunburned, your body releases chemicals that make your blood vessels dilate (widen). This allows more blood flow to your skin so it can heal from the damage caused by UV radiation exposure. However, this extra blood flow can cause damage from increased pressure in your blood vessels or from free radicals released during tissue repair that can damage healthy cells in your kidneys.
No matter how you enjoy the summer, always remember to protect your urinary tract system from the dangers of dehydration, heat exhaustion and sunburn.