June 21, 2016 Share

Common Summer Health Risks and Their Prevention & Treatment

It’s summer, finally!! The sun is shining, the pool’s open and there are more cookout invites than you can possibly attend. Along with all of this summertime activity, comes some common health risks/dangers you need to be mindful of.

 

PREVENTION ~

ENVIRONMENTAL

  • Sunburn: Wear sunscreen that protects against UVA & UVB rays, apply sunscreen liberally, re-apply often, check expiration dates (in the US, sunscreen must still be effective for 3 years after the expiration date). Wear hats, sunglasses, loose-fitting clothing and use umbrellas/seek shaded areas.
  • Hyperthermia/Heatstroke (body over heating): Don’t overexert yourself. Drink a quart of fluids an hour. Wear loose clothing light in color and fabric, as well as a hat and sunblock, and stay in the shade or indoors if possible. Open windows and use fans, or turn on air conditioning. If you don’t have air conditioning, go to a public place that does, like a mall, library, or movie theater. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can speed up dehydration. Finally, be a good neighbor – check on the elderly and chronically ill persons regularly to make sure they’re bearing up under the heat. Don’t overexert yourself. Drink a quart of fluids an hour. Wear loose clothing light in color and fabric, as well as a hat and sunblock, and stay in the shade or indoors if possible. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Protect against sunburn. Drink plenty of fluids. Take extra precautions with certain medications. Never leave anyone in a parked car. Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day. Get acclimated.
  • Dehydration: Drink plenty of water. Avoid caffeine. Drink water even if you’re not thirsty!
  • Heat Rash: Avoid situations that can lead to excessive sweating, such as hot, humid environments. Avoid strenuous exercise when it is very warm. In hot weather, use air conditioning, fans, and cool showers and baths to stay cool; dry your skin thoroughly; and wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes. Drink plenty of fluids to cool the body and to keep hydrated.
  • Water Safety (drowning): Pick swimming sites with lifeguards. Learn basic swimming skills. Use certified flotation devices. Recognize and avoid strong currents. Don’t panic if you find yourself in a strong current.
  • Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac: Learn to visually identify the plants. Avoid the plants. Wear protective clothing. Remove/kill the plants. If exposed, thoroughly wash skin (and animal fur). Clean contaminated objects. Apply a barrier cream.
  • Lyme Disease: Avoid direct contact with ticks. Use DEET or Permethrin. Find and remove ticks from your body, scalp, clothes and pets.

 

 

VIRAL

  • Coxsackie virus (Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease): Wash your hands often with soap and water. Disinfect dirty surfaces and soiled items. Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with infected people.
  • Water Safety (toxins/bacteria): Don’t swallow the water. Shower before & after swimming. For lakes & ponds: Check the weather (for updates on bacteria levels). For chlorinated pools: The water should look clean, clear, and blue — all the way to the bottom. You should be able to see the drain and the stripes on the bottom. Be sure the water is constantly lapping over the grills to be filtered. The sides of the pool should be smooth, not slippery or sticky. A handful of water should not stick to your hands. Chlorine should not have a strong smell. A strong chlorine-like odor can mean chloramines — which are chemicals comprised of chlorine mixed with body oil, sweat, urine, saliva, lotions, and feces. Listen for pool-cleaning equipment.
  • Swimmer’s Ear: Use hydrogen peroxide. Don’t use cotton swabs or tissues. Do use a hair dryer to dry ears. Wear ear plugs or bathing caps.
  • Food Poisoning: Never eat food that has been sitting out at a cookout all day in the hot sun-cook food in smaller quantities throughout the day. Cook meat fully when grilling. Cover food/drink to avoid bugs. Wash your hands, regularly, when eating food that many people will touch. Use ice/coolers/refrigeration to hold dairy products at proper temperature.

 

 

 TREATMENT ~

ENVIRONMENTAL

  • Sunburn: Put a cold, damp towel on your skin. Use a moisturizer that contains aloe vera or soy to help soothe sunburned skin. Take an anti-inflammatory, like ibuprofen. Drink extra water. Leave blisters alone!
  • Hyperthermia/Heatstroke: You must cool the body immediately, using an ice bath, ice packs or misting water on the skin. Emergency services (911) must be called, as the victim will definitely need medical attention.
  • Dehydration: Plenty of clear fluids are needed. For small children & infants, doctors recommend Pedialyte. For severe cases, an IV may be required.
  • Heat Rash: In most cases, heat rash will clear up on its own in a few days if the affected area is kept cool and dry. So cool your body in an air-conditioned room or with a fan, or take a cool shower or bath and let your skin air dry. Once the skin is cool and dry again, don’t use any type of oil-based product, which might block your sweat glands. If your prickly heat does not go away within a few days, or if you develop an infection where the bumps have burst, you may need medication, so call your doctor.
  • Water Safety (drowning): Determine whether the person is drowning. Call 911. Shout for help. Decide which rescue method to use (swim, reach, or flotation device). Proceed with the rescue. Assess the person’s ABCs – airway, breathing and circulation. Start CPR. Give breaths if the person is still not breathing- Continue this cycle until the person begins breathing or professional emergency help arrives.
  • Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac: Use soap and water to remove some of the plant’s oils from your skin. Drink plenty of water. Soak in baths. OTC cortisone creams and calamine lotions will help with the itch.
  • Lyme Disease: Patients treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely. Antibiotics commonly used for oral treatment include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil.
  • Coxsackie virus (Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease): Take OTC medications to relieve pain and fever. Use mouthwashes or sprays that numb mouth pain.
  • Water safety (toxins/bacteria): Shower. Drink water. See a doctor if severe illness occurs.
  • Swimmer’s Ear: Use the recommended OTC or prescription ear drops you are told to use by a medical professional.
  • Food Poisoning: Vomiting and diarrhea are the body’s way of flushing poison out of your system, so don’t take any over the counter medicine to treat these symptoms unless instructed by your doctor. Once you can keep fluid in your stomach, start drinking clear liquids. Then avoid greasy foods, caffeine, and sweets as you start to advance your diet if you still have diarrhea. Some people may also have trouble digesting milk products at first after having . Because repeated or diarrhea can remove large amounts of fluid from your system, dehydration is a potentially dangerous complication, especially in children and older adults. Lost fluids must be replaced promptly and completely. If you cannot keep liquids down, call your doctor. Intravenous fluid replacement may be necessary.

tracy