Managing 7 Common Summer Health Problems
Warm weather signals the arrival of holidays, picnics, beach days, and ample outdoor time. Along with it come a set of summer health concerns you should watch out for. Risks of dehydration, exposure, heatstroke, and other summer hazards are not to be taken lightly. With environmental factors playing into summer health concerns, conditions like summer flu, summer fevers, and other summer sicknesses might also play spoilsport and ruin your plans.
Lucky for you, common sickness in summer is completely manageable, provided you follow a few guidelines. Read on as we discuss summer health tips to help you remain safe, healthy, and fit throughout the bright season.
- Temperatures in certain areas can reach sweltering highs during summer. In such circumstances, regular water and fluid intake are insufficient for you to keep your body cool.
- This is a bigger concern when you're spending hours outdoors, either playing a sport, sunbathing, or are just going about your day. Over 50,000 Americans each year visit the emergency room feeling dehydrated in the summer. Dehydration is a major summer health concern and has to be addressed with urgency and caution.
Below are common symptoms faced by dehydrated people:
- Persistent thirst
- Less than normal urination
- Concentrated, yellow urine
- Dry mouth
- Confusion & headache
- Muscle cramps & discomfort
- Cool sensation on the skin
- Rapid heart rate
- The simplest way to tackle dehydration is by drinking an ample amount of water.
- Try and have a minimum of 8 glasses of water each day, and have at least 10-12 on the extra-sunny days.
- With water, also drink up rehydration fluids like fruit juices. Along with water content, these fluids contain several electrolytes that enable you to retain energy and balance after a hot summer's day.
- However, avoid extra-sugary or salty drinks, as they'll worsen your symptoms.
- Wear light clothing, avoid venturing outside in the afternoons and always carry a water bottle.
2. Sun Burns
- Crisp and sunny days call for a picnic or a trip to the beach. However, while you're busy basking in the sun or playing beach volleyball, your skin takes a beating from the sun.
- Though the skin is supposed to be your first line of defense against the sun, it too has a breaking point. UV light indexes along with concentrated sunlight can be higher during summers. These factors are the major causes of sunburn.
- Repeated unprotected exposure to the sun is a major summer hazard, and increases the presence of pigmented spots, scars, and promotes the signs of aging.
- Apart from the usual risks, skin cancer chances are amplified by remaining in the sun without sunscreen for prolonged periods.
- Warm and red skin that pains on touch
- Flaking and peeling of the exposed skin
- Nausea & occasional bouts of vomiting
- Blistering in the exposed area
- Preventing sunburns is far better than having to manage one. Be sure to carry sunscreen with a good SPF rating (not lower than 30) whenever you're planning any outdoor trips.
- Apply a healthy amount of sunscreen before stepping out during the hot hours of late morning and afternoon.
- Protective clothing and limiting your time outside to a few hours will also help.
However, if you do contract a sunburn, here are some methods to help you beat the heat at home:
- Apply ice packs/ cold compresses to the affected area.
- Apply cooling lotions and gels containing aloe.
- Take regular, cool showers.
- Stay hydrated.
- Medications such as Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen can help bring down a fever and help you deal with the inflammation.
- Do not go outside when the sun is still up until your sunburns are healed completely.
- Consult your doctor in case of severe and blistering sunburns.
3. Heat Stroke
- High temperatures, heatwaves, and exposure can cause your body to overheat. The body runs out of methods and water to cool down your body in such situations, and this results in a condition called heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
- Despite advisories, heat exhaustion remains one of the most common sicknesses in summer. Heatstroke is most likely caused by spending too many hours outside when the mercury is soaring.
- A lack of hydration further exacerbates the summer hazard. The young, elderly, and outdoor workers are at the highest risk of contracting heat stroke.
- With the increase in higher temperatures, thanks to climate change, summer diseases such as heat stroke are far more common than they once were.
A person that has come down with heatstroke exhibits:
- A high fever
- Tender, reddish, and moist skin
- Frequent bouts of sweating
- An elevated heart rate
- Confusion, headache, and fainting
- Loss of appetite
- Malaise and body cramps
- As goes for most summer diseases, preventing heatstroke is by far the best option. Make sure you limit your activities outside when the temperatures are too high, or schedule them during periods when the heat is at a manageable level.
- Wear protective clothing, sunscreen, and carry an ample amount of water and rehydration fluids if you must venture out in the afternoons. Managing full-blown heat stroke involves:
- Taking a cold shower and immersing yourself feet in a cold tub of water.
- Sponging with cold, damp towels.
- Medications to mitigate fever, muscle cramps, tremors, and inflammation.
- A bland, yet nutritious diet.
- If you show severe symptoms of heatstroke, make sure you contact your physician immediately.
4. Food-borne Summer Diseases
- Summer temperatures affect food adversely, as warmer environments promote microbial growth and quicker degradation.
- This leads to food-borne summer diseases if certain dishes aren't refrigerated or are exposed to high temperatures for prolonged periods.
- Certain salads, fried foods, sauces, and mayonnaise can go stale or rancid far sooner in summers. Consuming these foods without measures to mitigate microbial growth can lead to gastrointestinal troubles.
- Nausea & vomiting
- Abdominal cramps
- Preventing food-borne summer flu and summer fevers include refrigerating foods like salads, seafood, and meat for sufficient periods.
- Use separate containers to store different varieties of food and throw out food that's been sitting out in the open for too long.
- A practice of cooking at sufficiently high temperatures and for adequate amounts of time must be instituted to kill off any microbes present in the food.
- If you've already contracted symptoms of food-borne summer disease, be sure to contact your physician. Adequate hydration, coupled with a mild diet and antibiotics to clear the infection is the most frequent course of action.
5. Insect Bites & Vector-borne Diseases
- Summer is the season of camping trips and hiking. With these outdoor adventures, there exists a persistent annoyance- bugs & mosquitoes.
- The woods, trails, and parks are prone to housing several insects that are often more than an irritant to humans.
- Not only do many of them bite, but several insects like ticks, sand flies, and mosquitoes also carry various diseases that can be transmitted to you.
- Summer fevers like dengue and West Nile disease are viral diseases that are carried by mosquitoes. Insects like ticks can cause Colorado tick fever and Lyme disease.
- Summers also cause an uptick in wasp and bee activity, be on the lookout for hives and nests and steer clear of them. Wasp and bee stings can cause allergic reactions and even anaphylaxis in severe cases.
- If you're planning a trip abroad during the summer, you need to be extra careful about diseases like malaria, sleeping sickness, and leishmaniasis.
Symptoms: Insect bites can cause small to large bumps and swelling in the region of the bite. Itchiness, pain, and irritation follow. Infectious diseases transmitted by insect bites often begin with a high fever and fatigue.
To prevent serious diseases resulting from insect bites, be sure to:
- Carry insect repellant
- Wear protective clothing
- Sanitize an area before pitching a tent
- Avoid thick vegetation
- Be on the lookout for tick advisories
- Learn to identify bug bites
If you come down with a fever following an outdoor camping trip, contact your physician to enable smoother management of any potential summer disease.
6. Allergies & Poisoning
- Summers bring about free time for many, and this means you spend some amount of that time mowing the lawn. Warm weather also promotes pollination for several plant species. Understandably, these factors cause an increase in allergies. It could range from the common sniffles and sneezing to full-blown hay fever, dermatitis, and rash.
- As discussed earlier, summer camping trips also bring people closer to contact with plants like poison ivy. The species is abundant throughout large swathes of the United States and can cause symptoms similar to allergies. While directly contacting the plant would result in obvious symptoms, the active component in poison ivy can also be transmitted via clothing and camping equipment.
- Deep red/ purplish rashes and bumps on the skin
- Itchy and red patches of skin
- Runny nose
- Mild fever
- Persistent itchy sensation in the ears, nose, throat, and eyes
- Blisters and water-filled bumps
- Always carry a mask or a respirator with you in case you're prone to allergy attacks.
- Check dust, pollen, and pollution advisories before going out camping.
- Look for local information on vegetation and basic plant identification techniques to avoid contacting poison ivy.
- If you do contract an allergy, over-the-counter drugs as Zyrtec can help. However, it is always better to contact your physician.
7. Injuries & Trauma
- Each year summer brings about several patients into emergency rooms. Summer injuries include anything ranging from minor scrapes to serious, life-threatening trauma. With an increase in leisure activities, it's obvious that many people let their guard down during summer.
- Emergency rooms in the United States see an increase in boating accidents, camping mishaps, lawnmower lacerations, and sports injuries.
- The best summer health tip to mitigate these hazards is prevention. Be sure to follow all safety protocols before mowing your lawn, going on a camping trip, a boat ride, or playing a sport. Be watchful of malfunctioning machines and have a keen eye for environmental cues.
- If you or anyone close to you does get injured, dial the emergency helpline and get immediate medical assistance.
Summers are often full of joy, family gatherings, and fun outdoor trips. Make sure you ensure safety by following these simple summer health tips for a delightful and warm season, in both health and spirit.