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Summer Health Hazards- Prevention & Treatment

Summer fun is bound to bring on the occasional injury, but don’t let common summer health hazards send you to the emergency room instead of enjoying time spent with family and friends.  With warm weather activities in full swing, be sure to be safe this summer by knowing some top health risks.

7 Common Summer Health Concerns

Take these helpful tips towards savoring your summer days while sidestepping some top seasonal ailments.

1. Dehydration

Causes? Most of us don’t drink enough water throughout our days, and it’s even easier to dehydrate during the hot summer months. Especially in dry climates, sweat dissolves quickly so you likely won’t notice that you are losing a large amount of fluids.

Prevention: Increase your daily intake of fluids and electrolytes in order to help avoid heat stroke and other medical emergencies which may require immediate attention.

2. Heat Rash

Causes? Occurs when the skin’s sweat glands are blocked and the sweat produced is unable to get to the surface of the skin to evaporate, leading to inflammation that results in a rash.

Prevention: Try wearing loose clothing that allows your skin to breathe. If you see a rash developing, escape the sun and remove clothing and let skin air-dry. Many topical treatments we use on bug bites and poison ivy can be used to treat the rash. Check with your pharmacist or physician on recommended ointments.

3. Foodborne Illnesses

Causes? Food poisoning peaks in the summer months when temperatures cause foodborne bacteria to flourish (they grow fastest at temperatures ranging from 90 and 100 degrees).

Prevention: Food poisoning is preventable when following certain safety practices.

  • Cook meats thoroughly and don't cross-contaminate.
  • When packing a cooler, for instance, wrap raw meats securely to ensure their juices don't touch any other edibles.
  • As for leftovers- any food that's been unrefrigerated for more than two hours should be tossed.

4. Skin Cancer

Causes? Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. Over one million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. More common in people who:

  • have spent lots of time in the sun or have been sunburned.
  • have fair skin, hair and eyes.
  • have a family member who has had skin cancer.
  • are over the age 50.

Prevention: If caught early, skin cancer is usually treated easily. Skin cancer prevention tips include:

  • Spending more time in the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • Do not burn.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning beds.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.
  • Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun.

5. Poison Ivy

Causes? Though people think of poison ivy as a summertime menace, you can be exposed to the three-leaved plant at any time of year wherever it grows.

Prevention: Avoid poison ivy rash by following these tips:

  • Avoid the plants. When hiking or engaging in other activities that might expose you to these plants, try to stay on cleared pathways. If camping, make sure you pitch your tent in an area free of these plants.
  • Wear protective clothing. Protect your skin by wearing socks, boots, pants and long sleeves when knowing you maybe in a poison ivy-prone area.
  • Wash your skin or pet’s fur. Within 30 minutes after exposure, use soap and water to gently wash off the harmful resin from your skin. Scrub under your fingernails too. Even washing after an hour or so can help reduce the severity of the rash.

6. Swimmer’s Ear

Causes? This type of infection leads to over two million health care visits annually. When water gets trapped in your ear while swimming, your ear canal becomes a breeding ground for the bacteria, causing swimmer’s ear.

Prevention: Drying your ears thoroughly after swimming by rubbing your outer ears with a cloth. For more difficult clogs, use a hair dryer on low and point it toward your ear, rather than using a Q-tip.

7. Car Accidents

Causes? More teens are on the road and families go on vacation during the summer months. With more people on the road, accidents are more likely to happen. In addition, hot weather can cause the air inside your tires to expand, which can lead to a blowout.

Prevention: There is no need to change your summer driving plans. Help stay safe on the road with these tips:

  • Buckle up, eliminate distractions (no texting).
  • Obey the speed limit.
  • Ensure the car is in reliable condition to drive- tires aired up, oil changed, fluids topped off, etc. 
MedicAlert Team Member