The hot and sticky summer months can leave everyone struggling, but warm weather can be particularly tough when having, or recovering from, cancer treatment. Illness may mean our body temperature fluctuates. 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 - hormone treatments such as Tamoxifen, for example, can cause hot flushes, while diuretics and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can affect the kidneys.Strawberry drink

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. At home, the thought of going to the kitchen for a glass of water can seem a trek too far. So, try keeping a jug of iced water nearby so it's easy to reach. Adding lemon, mint or cucumber can all help water taste even more refreshing. And if you're going out, remember to take some water with you. There are lots of reusable water bottles available.

If we're in hospital, we may struggle to access the hydration we need - perhaps it's the glass of water left on the bedside table, but too far away to reach; or an under-resourced ward where staff are too pressured to spend time helping to hold a cup to help us drink; or noise and disturbance that puts us off fluids and food. If you are in hospital and can ask, make sure you have drinks to hand. You can ask your visitors to help you with a drink if you struggle on your own. Using a straw may make drinking easier.

Dehydration has a big impact on our wellbeing, slowing our recovery rate and creating additional health problems at a time when you're already vulnerable. We may get 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 defense against problems caused by the heat, so here are a few tips to help:

  • Aim to have at least 1.5 litres (just over 2.5 pints) - and ideally 2 litres (3.5 pints) - 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 manage.
  • Don't wait until you feel thirsty to drink, as you may already be low in fluids by this point. Try to drink regularly throughout the day.
  • The colour of your urine is a good indicator of how hydrated you are - the paler, the better.

Instant refreshers

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 and lime tea - mint tea, lime juice, fresh mint leaves, sparkling water
Cranberry chiller - cranberry juice, sparkling water, frozen raspberries, basil leaves
Strawberry and watermelon slushy - frozen watermelon, strawberry, lemon juice, blended
Rhubarb refresher - mix the syrup from my poached rhubarb recipe with sparkling water
Blackberry bliss - mix the syrup from my poached blackberries recipe with sparkling water

Join our Online Community to talk to other people affected by cancer

Read more on our Community News Blog

Follow Nourish, Jane's Online Community blog