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Hot Weather Focus: Tips on How to Stay Hydrated

Published | 6 min read

Excessive heat can lead to exhaustion, cramps and dehydration. Find out how to stay hydrated, especially in the hot Malaysian weather.

A young Asian man drinking a bottled water in a park

Hot weather in Malaysia? Nothing new, lah! But you’re not imagining things if you feel the weather has been getting hotter lately. A study from Think City reports that the surface temperature of several cities in Malaysia has increased in the last few decades. The same study also shows the highest surface temperature increase in Johor Bahru – 6.75°C between 2005 and 2018. With the hot weather, staying hydrated during the day is important. However, it can slip right out of your mind, especially when you’re too busy doing other things. 

Most Malaysians are used to the hot weather. Nonetheless, dehydration is a real threat and comes unexpectedly. According to a 2018 study published in BMC Public Health, people can become dehydrated if they lose as little as 3% of their body weight from water loss. In addition, dehydration by 1% to 2% is also associated with poor memory and performance.

You may not notice it when your body starts to overheat and dehydrate. Regardless, you can still enjoy a fun (and productive) day in the sun. Let’s explore more signs of dehydration and tips to stay hydrated.

Causes of Dehydration 

A woman wearing a protective hat is drinking water on a construction field
If your work takes you outdoors under the hot sun, bring a bottle of water with you, so that you can always stay hydrated.

According to the National Health Service (NHS) UK, dehydration can happen more quickly if you have diabetes, vomiting or diarrhoea. If you have been in the sun too long, you can get dehydrated and have a heatstroke. Drinking too much alcohol and sweating too much after exercising can also lead to dehydration. Moreover, taking medicines that make you pee more (diuretics) and having a high temperature of 38°C or more can also result in dehydration.

It is important to note that babies, children, and the elderly are more prone to dehydration. So, keep an eye on your loved ones and make sure they are hydrating regularly.

Symptoms of Dehydration 

Common symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration include:  

  • Dry mouth/tongue 
  • Thirst  
  • Headache  
  • Lethargy  
  • Fatigue  
  • Dry skin  
  • Dark yellow urine 
  • Muscle weakness  
  • Light-headedness  
  • Dizziness  
  • Lack of focus  

People with severe dehydration have been known to have sunken eyes, lack of tears, sunken fontanels (specifically among infants), irritability, rapid breathing, hypotension and tachycardia. In the worst-case scenario, severe dehydration can lead to unconsciousness. 

Best Ways to Stay Hydrated 

Ready to go out and enjoy your day in the sun? Follow these tips to help you stay focused and comfortable without getting bothered by the scorching heat. 

1. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water 

How should you stay hydrated? Make it a habit to drink water regularly, eight glasses of water a day, throughout the day. Target to finish a certain amount of water by the end of each day. If you are unsure what the ideal amount of water to drink is, you can always refer to a trained medical professional for a discussion. It will depend on your lifestyle and workplace conditions. For example, people working in hot environments need to drink more water because they sweat more. 

2. Don’t like the taste of water? Add some natural flavour 

If you don’t like the bland taste of plain water, add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to savour it. Drop a few slices of lemon into your glass or water bottle, and your drink will be infused with a fragrant citrus flavour.

You can also stay hydrated by drinking fruit and vegetable juices, unsweetened drinks and diet sodas, but be mindful of the sugar content. Read the carton or bottle labels to monitor the amount of sugar you consume.

3. Eat more fruits and vegetables

An Asian lady eating a salad and fruits for lunch in front of her laptop
Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your meals and snacks to help you stay hydrated.

You can also load up on more fruits and vegetables to ensure you stay hydrated. Some fruits and vegetables have higher water content than others.

According to a 2017 paper, Storage Methods for Fruits and Vegetables, fruits with higher water content are apple (84% water), cantaloupe (93% water), citrus (89% water), honeydew melon (93% water), watermelon (93% water), peach (89% water) and orange (86% water). The same publication also gave a list of vegetables with high water content, including asparagus (93% water), cabbage (92% water), cauliflower (92% water), tomato (94% water) and spinach (93% water). 

4. Stay indoors when it is very hot 

Based on Johns Hopkins Medicine, if an individual is overexposed to the sun and doesn’t drink enough water, the body loses water content and essential body salts, such as sodium and potassium. In severe cases, you can suffer from heatstroke.   

Essentially, when you sweat, you lose water so it would help if you drink fluids to rehydrate. Avoid coffee, soda, caffeinated tea and alcohol, as these can cause dehydration. 

5. Wear a light layer of clothing

Shouldn’t you be wearing fewer items of clothing when it’s hot? While it can help your body lose excess heat naturally, it’s best to wear something more protective. Instead, opt for a light-coloured, loose layer of clothing that doesn’t restrict airflow. Doing this will also protect your skin from burning. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Physician Brandon Yew explains, “On a hot day, you should wear thin-layered and loose clothing to avoid the infliction of Heat and Dampness pathogens. This will also significantly reduce or even stop sweating, preventing the further loss of qi and yin energies.” 

Another pro tip: choose items made from cotton, linen, rayon, or bamboo with moisture-wicking technology. 

What Should You Do When the Heat is Too Much

If you start to feel unwell even after doing the abovementioned tips, immediately seek medical treatment.   

Though treating the early onset of dehydration at home is possible, it should be under a healthcare provider’s guidance. Here are the treatment recommendations:  

  • In children, directions for giving food and fluids will be customised according to the dehydration cause, so it is essential to consult your child’s healthcare provider.  
  • In mild dehydration, simple rehydration by drinking fluids is recommended. Many sports drinks on the market can restore body fluid level, electrolytes and salt balance.  
  • In moderate dehydration, it may be necessary to provide intravenous (IV) fluids. Please consult a medical professional for guidance and treatment if you have dehydration symptoms.  
  • Cases of severe dehydration are regarded as medical emergencies. Immediate action must be taken, including hospitalisation and administering IV fluids.  

Physician Yew states, “TCM can help with post heatstroke recovery through herbal medication, acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, tuina massage, and blood-letting; all of which are formulated carefully by a TCM physician to address the unique body constitution of every individual patient. Hence, it is best to always first consult the TCM physician for a proper assessment.”  

Some TCM herbal formulations that help are Sheng Mai Yin (生脉饮) to regenerate lost qi and yin energies of the Heart and Lungs, and regulate sweating. Xiang Ru San (香薷散) dispels residual Dampness, while both Liu Yi San (六一散) and Gui Ling Gan Lu Yin (桂苓甘露饮) have the additional effect of clearing residual Heat on top of Dampness. Finally, Qing Shu Yi Qi Tang (清暑益气汤) regenerates lost qi and yin energies, and dispels Heat and Dampness.

With the heat waves these days, it is time to develop the habit of drinking fluids regularly to stay hydrated. If you are going out, take a bottle of water with you to ensure you fulfil your daily water requirements.


  1. BMC Public Health. 2018. Public knowledge of dehydration and fluid intake practices: variation by participants’ characteristics.  [Accessed on 24 June 2022] 
  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine. N.d. Dehydration and Heatstroke. [Accessed on 24 June 2022]  
  3. Khan, Dr & Bhat, Sajad & Narayan, Sarath. 2017. Storage Methods for Fruits and Vegetables.  [Accessed on 24 June 2022]    
  4. National Health Service (NHS) UK. Dehydration.  [Accessed on 24 June 2022] 
  5. NPR. 2012. Summer Science: Clothes Keep You Cool, More Or Less. [online] Available at <> [Accessed on 30 June 2022] 
  6. New Straits Time. 2021. Malaysian cities are getting hotter: Study.  [Accessed on 30 June 2022] 

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