4 Ways Summer Heat Can Affect Your Gastrointestinal Health

Summer is a time for outdoor activities and fun in the sun, but it can also bring about some challenges for your gastrointestinal health. The hot and humid weather can have a significant impact on your digestive system, which can often lead to a variety of uncomfortable symptoms. 

Summer Heat And Gastrointestinal Health

Summer heat can have a significant impact on your gastrointestinal health. To help you stay happy and healthy during the summer months, Birmingham Gastroenterology has put together a few ways that summer heat can affect your gastrointestinal health.

1. Dehydration

It’s fairly well known that dehydration is a condition that can lead to serious complications. However, did you know that it can pose a risk to your gastrointestinal health? When there is a lack of water in the body, it becomes difficult for our bodies to produce enough saliva, mucus, and digestive fluids that support a healthy, functioning digestive system. This can often lead to side effects such as abdominal pain, bloating, and constipation. A general rule of thumb is to make sure you drink at least 8 servings of 6-8 ounces of water per day, and increase your intake on hot days or when participating in strenuous activities.

2. Food Poisoning

With the summer heat at its peak, the risk of food poisoning increases. Heat and humidity can cause bacteria to multiply more quickly in food, leading to food poisoning. Some of the most common foods to cause food poisoning include

  • Poultry
  • Mayonnaise
  • Vegetables and other leafy greens
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs

Symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. To prevent food poisoning, it’s essential to keep food refrigerated, wash hands before handling food, and refrain from eating foods that have been sitting out in the sun for too long. Additionally, make sure perishable foods are kept at an appropriate temperature in a cooler or refrigerator.

3. Loss Of Appetite

As it heats up, you may notice your appetite goes down. This is due to your body trying to regulate its temperature by cutting back on heat-generating functions such as digesting food. Yet, this can have a negative effect on your gastrointestinal health. When your body has no food to digest, it continues to perform— meaning you are still producing digestive juices. When this happens, and there is nothing to digest, the bile used to digest food can erode your intestinal lining and cause symptoms such as acid reflux and gastritis. Even if you’re not feeling hungry in the summer heat, it is important to fuel your body, even if that means having a small snack!

4. Heat-Related Illness

Heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion is a condition that can occur when the body overheats, leading to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and headaches. To avoid heat exhaustion, it’s important to stay hydrated, take frequent breaks in the shade or air conditioning, and avoid spending too much time in the sun. Additionally, if you plan to work out in the heat, ensure that you are well-hydrated beforehand and know your limits. 

To stay healthy in the summer months, it is important to care for your gastrointestinal health by drinking plenty of water, properly storing and cooking food, and knowing your limits when it comes to exercising. If you experience any digestive symptoms during the summer months, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment.  Here at Birmingham Gastroenterology, we have decades of experience treating diseases and disorders in all parts of the digestive system. To make an appointment to discuss your symptoms and treatment options or to ask questions about your digestive system, call us at (205) 271-8000.

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