For many people, summers bring relaxing vacations, cool drinks and floppy hats while for others they can mean irritating rashes, fatigue and even food poisoning. Certain ailments are more simply more common during the summer and can sometimes have a lasting impact that lasts well after the season is over. Fortunately, learning about some common summer health problems and taking simple precautions will often be sufficient to keep you out of harm’s way this summer.
- Insect Bites- Mosquitoes, ticks, bed bugs, flies and several types of ants and spiders tend to thrive in hot and humid weather leading to a sharp uptake in the risk of insect bites during the summer months. While many of these insects’ bites don’t cause much more serious damage than a red bump or the occasional rash, these insects can sometimes act as carriers for dangerous and even potentially fatal diseases. Mosquitoes are probably the most famous example of this, acting as carriers for diseases from Zika Virus and Dengue Fever to Malaria. Ticks are also famous for the transmission of the potentially fatal Lyme disease, which causes severe joint pain and weakness in the limbs. A small percentage of people are allergic to insect bites themselves and may experience severe symptoms including dizziness, breathlessness, nausea and a sudden rapid heart rate. If you or someone else experiences these symptoms post an insect bite, seek medical attention immediately.
- You can protect yourself from insect bites by taking simple yet effective precautions such as staying away from stagnant water and using insect repellent creams on exposed skin. Staying indoor during the hours immediately after sunset is also a good idea as that is generally the time mosquitoes are most active.
- Respiratory Discomfort- To a certain part of the population, the summer months are also known as hay-fever season. Hay Fever is a common ailment that occurs as a result of an allergy to pollen and causes flu-like symptoms including itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and other similar symptoms. While it can be extremely uncomfortable, symptoms can generally be relieved through oral medication. High pollen levels and increased fungal growth due to high humidity make people more prone to asthma attacks in the summer.
- If you suffer from a respiratory disorder, consult your healthcare professional about preventative medication and supplements. In addition to this, stay away from nasal and allergic irritants as far as possible by maintaining a clean, dust-free atmosphere and clean damp surfaces in your house regularly to prevent mold growth.
- Sunburn- Sunburn is a type of radiation burn that occurs due to prolonged overexposure to dangerous ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the Sun. It affects living tissue, such as skin, eventually burning it and turning it red and irritated and sometimes causing blisters. In case of severe burns, the skin may even swell and begin to peel off. Some people report experiencing flu-like symptoms including chills, nausea, headaches and weakness along with an irritated itching sensation on the burnt skin. Apart from being painful and damaging aesthetically, sunburns are a serious form of damage to your skin and can increase the risk of developing aggressive skin cancers such as melanoma. The best way to prevent sun damage, is by applying sunscreen (SPF 30 and above) about 15-25 minutes before exposure to the Sun, to allow the sunscreen to be absorbed by the skin. Reapplication of sunscreen is essential for skin protection and should be done every 2 hours. Invest in Sun Protection Factor lip balm to protect your lips from harmful rays and prevent them from becoming chapped and discoloured. Staying indoors during periods of highest intensity of the Sun’s rays (11:00am-3pm) is an effective way of preventing Sun damage, when possible.
- Recreational Water Illnesses- One of the most popular ways to beat the summer heat is swimming and other recreational water activities. Unfortunately, the increased crowd in the swimming pool is directly proportionate to an increased risk of illness. All public swimming areas can host bacteria that cause gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic illnesses and wound infections. One of the most common RWIs contracted by swallowing swimming pool water is diarrhoea and indigestion. Another common infection is Swimmer’s Ear which is caused due to water logging in the ear canal. It’s symptoms range from discomfort to disorientation and headaches and if left unchecked can result in a ear infection. The heat and humidity of the summer months fuels the growth of bacteria and fungi and increases the likelihood of infection. Reduce the risk of contracting such illnesses by using less crowded and well maintained pools. Pools with a proper chlorination schedule are far less likely to harbour infectious bacteria. Infections such as Swimmer’s Ear can be prevented by wearing ear plugs during swimming and consulting a doctor promptly in case of persistent water logging.