(AscendHealthy.com) – Summer is here, and the family is geared up for an action-packed day of fun in the sun. While most of us don’t think twice before we venture out the door, things do pop up, unfortunately. From insect bites to an injury on the lake, things happen. Here are some common summer health issues and how to avoid them.
1. Heat-Related Illness
Temperatures can really start to rise in the summer. The warmer weather opens the door to enjoying outdoor activities, but when physical activity is involved, we need to watch for heat exhaustion or heat stroke because they can happen quickly. Both conditions can be serious and deadly. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke have similar symptoms. Look for:
- Hot, red skin or cold, pale skin,
- Fast pulse,
- Dizziness or fainting,
- Confusion, or
The best bet is to move to a cooler, shaded location and get medical help right away if the person is unconscious or has a body temperature over 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember to drink water, stay cool and not overdo physical activity when it’s hot out.
2. Water Sports
For many of us, summer fun means getting out on the lake or in the pool. Yet, these are also places where injuries can easily happen. Aside from accidents with water skiing and injuries involving crashes, drowning is the 5th leading cause of accidental death in the U.S.
This preventable tragedy starts with wearing a life jacket while in and around the water. Other steps that bolster prevention and save lives include learning how to swim and using the buddy system.
When working or playing in hot, steamy weather, dehydration is as much a concern as heat exhaustion. Even losing as little as 1.5% of water in the body can trigger symptoms. Signs include:
- Infrequent urination or concentrated urine that’s dark yellow,
- Extreme thirst, or
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, and drink even more when physically active. Choose water or sports drinks with electrolytes over sodas, teas or juices to stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to serious health problems and may require hospitalization in severe cases. So keep a water bottle on hand at all times.
Sun-kissed complexions in summertime may be a right of passage, but sunburns and blistering, peeling skin are painful precursors to potentially long-term health issues. Instead of chancing a burn, consider using a bronzing sunscreen to get that healthy glow while protecting the skin. Reapply sunscreen every couple of hours or after swimming or sweating heavily. Wearing hats and clothes to protect from overexposure to the sun is also a good idea.
Having as few as 5 blistering sunburns before the age of 20 can increase our chances of melanoma (skin cancer) by 80%. And we can get sunburned on cloudy days, too. Experts recommend using sunscreens with a minimum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 whenever we plan on being outside, in any season. Preventing sunburns will keep the fun going, help us stay hydrated, and protect our long-term health.
5. Insect Bites
Pesky insect bites are a common health issue that arises in warm weather months. Frequent culprits include fleas, ticks, ants and stinging insects.
Most insect bites just need basic attention with some ice and calamine lotion. However, be aware that the body’s immune response changes as we age. So, getting bit by a yellow jacket 10 years ago may have left a small welt. But as we get older, it may cause anaphylactic shock.
Maintain an awareness of the surroundings and watch for stinging insects at all times. If someone is showing signs of swelling, displays confusion or has trouble breathing, call 911 right away.
6. Food Poisoning
Summertime evokes plans for picnics, barbecues and potlucks with get-togethers and outdoor gatherings. We may need to take extra precautions with food during heatwaves because of the increased risk of foodborne illness.
E.coli, listeria and salmonella are all bacteria types that can trigger foodborne illness. We need to be especially cautious of food that might be undercooked or has been left out in warm temperatures for too long. It’s important to keep foods at their optimal temperatures (hot or cold) and covered until we’re ready to serve.
Summer is the perfect time to get out and enjoy the weather, activities, and amenities that accompany it, including food, sports, get-togethers and garden chores. Don’t let a minor injury or preventable illness sidetrack the enjoyment. Staying vigilant and armed with the facts can prevent a sunny situation from becoming a dark and stormy emergency.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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