Summer Health Problems
Courtesy of best health
Stay safe this summer
Summertime is all about outdoor fun—trips to the cottage, lazy days on the beach, hikes in the woods, and meals cooked on the grill. Here’s how to handle common warm-weather ailments so you can keep the good times going.
Mosquitoes, bees, wasps, ants, spiders…is your skin crawling yet? The itching, swelling and pain of insect bites are due to the venom and other substances biters leave behind. Sometimes there is a delayed reaction with additional symptoms (hives, painful joints, fever and swollen glands). Most people react mildly, and bites can be treated by removing the stinger, if there is one, and washing the area with soap and water; applying topical cream for the itching and a cold pack for the swelling; taking a pain reliever such as acetaminophen, if needed; and taking an antihistamine to quell the reaction.
A small number of people experience a severe reaction, with symptoms such as swelling of the throat and lips, nausea, respiratory problems, faintness, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, confusion and shock. Seek emergency help right away. People with known allergies to insect bites should carry self-injectable epinephrine (EpiPen).
Spread by deer ticks and western black-legged ticks, Lyme disease is a serious illness with three stages. First is a circular rash around the bite, appearing three days to a month later, plus symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue, headache, and joint and muscle pain. Without antibiotic treatment, victims develop rashes, weakness, stiff and swollen joints, an abnormal heartbeat, extreme fatigue and nervous system problems. The third stage involves neurological symptoms and arthritis.
Ticks live in areas that are wooded or have tall grass. Consult your local public health office about infestations. When visiting these places, wear insect repellent with DEET, long sleeves that fit wrists closely, long pants tucked into your socks, and close-toed footwear.
Do a daily tick check. To remove ticks, use tweezers to grasp the head and mouth parts as close to the skin as you can, and slowly pull without squishing or twisting. Wash the site with soap and water, and save the bug in a container or sandwich bag. If you experience any symptoms, contact a doctor.
Sunburn is the painful reddening of the skin after overexposure to sunlight. Avoid getting burned: stay in the shade, especially during peak hours (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.); cover up with clothes and a wide-brimmed hat; and apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with minimum SPF 15 to exposed skin (re-apply regularly, especially after sweating or swimming). These tips help prevent skin cancer, too—most often, this type of cancer is caused by too much sun. (Tanning beds are no safer, so give them a pass.)
If sunburned, take a cool shower or bath and apply cool compresses to affected areas several times daily. Apply aloe gel, but avoid lotions that keep heat in the skin. Acetaminophen helps relieve pain. If the burn is very painful or blistered, or if there are additional symptoms like facial swelling, nausea, fever or chills, rapid pulse, rapid breathing, confusion, dizziness or signs of skin infection, get immediate medical help.
Kamloops, B.C., is the Canadian city with the most days hitting 30C or higher, so we asked local experts for advice on heat stroke, a condition in which body temperature rises to 40C or higher. The body is usually able to regulate temperature via sweating or blood-flow changes to the skin, explains Dr. Nick Balfour, regional medical director with BC Ambulance Service (BCAS). “However, in extreme heat, high humidity, or during vigorous physical exertion, the body may not be able to dissipate heat and the body temperature rises. Heat stroke is a very serious medical condition that can have damaging or potential fatal implications if not immediately treated.”
Symptoms include an extremely high body temperature; red, hot, dry skin; a rapid pulse, a throbbing headache, nausea, dizziness, confusion, and unconsciousness. Avoid overheating by staying in the shade and drinking plenty of water, advises Troy Clifford, a primary care paramedic with BCAS. “If you notice that an individual is experiencing the signs and symptoms associated with heat stroke, call 995 immediately and get out of the sun. Emergency medical dispatchers will provide instruction and support while paramedics are en route.”
- New Tick-Borne Illness Could Be Worse Than Lyme Disease (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- The Dangers of Overheating in Older Adults (everydayhealth.com)
- Summer’s Here Beware of Heat Stroke (monarcaresblog.com)