While summer means lots of fun (think, sunshine, sweat and cookouts) it also brings health hazards. We reviewed four common dangers and got summer health tips from the experts to help keep you and your family safe.
What it is: Heatstroke is caused by the body overheating, usually from excessive exposure to, or strenuous activity in, high temperatures. Other contributing factors include wearing excess clothing, alcohol consumption and dehydration.
How to treat it: You, or someone you know, might have heatstroke if they are overheated and show unusual signs, including:
- Slurred speech
- Flushed skin
- Rapid breathing or racing heart rate
- Throbbing headache
If you start to see some of those signs, seek emergency help immediately. While you wait for emergency personnel, cool down as quickly as you can by moving indoors or into the shade, and removing excessive clothing.
How to avoid it: Avoid activity during the hottest parts of the day. Wear loose clothing, sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat and drink plenty of water. If you take medications, check to see if they affect your body’s level of hydration. Also, never leave anyone, including pets, in a parked vehicle.
What it is: Literally skin that’s been burned by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Skin may be pink or red, feel warm to the touch, swell, be tender, itch or develop blisters. Severe sunburn may be accompanied by a headache, fever, chills and fatigue.
How to treat it: Over-the-counter pain relievers may help reduce pain and swelling from sunburn. Applying moisturizer or aloe vera may also help reduce pain and swelling, and encourage healing. Drink plenty of water to help the skin recover.
How to avoid it: Base tans won’t protect you. Instead, try a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more, and apply it often and generously. You can also sport sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and special clothing with SPF protection. Read more about protective clothing and its unique SPF rating system.
What it is: An allergic reaction to a bite or sting from any one of the many bugs that come out to play during the summer. It could be mosquitoes, spiders, bees or ants. You don’t need to have a history of severe allergic reactions to experience one. If you have difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips, eyelids or throat, or have dizziness, hives or similar symptoms, seek emergency help immediately.
How to treat it: If you’re bitten or stung, move away from the area to avoid more bites or stings. Once you’re safe, remove any stingers, if needed, and wash the area with soap and water. Follow with a cold compress to reduce pain and swelling. Over-the-counter medications can also help.
How to avoid it: Bug sprays will help keep some bugs, like mosquitoes, at bay. When it comes to other bugs such as spiders or wasps, be aware of your surroundings. One summer, I accidently upset a yellow jacket nest. The scariest part is that they will chase you when you run. The bad news is swatting at them only makes them angrier. If that happens, try to stay calm (easier said than done, I know), cover your face and run as fast as you can. In my case, I had to grab a garden hose to get them off me.
What it is: When your body uses or loses more fluid than it takes in, it can’t carry out normal functions.
How to treat it: Mild dehydration can usually be reversed by drinking more water. If you’re experiencing extreme thirst, little or no urination, shriveled skin, dizziness and confusion, seek help right away.
How to avoid it: Drink plenty of water or sports drinks and eat foods that have high water content, like fruits and veggies. On really humid days, you’ll want to drink extra water to make up for the extra sweat factor. According to the Institute of Medicine, men should drink 13 eight-ounce glasses of water in a day and ladies should drink nine eight-ounce glasses of water in a day.
If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact Heather Duffy at 732 574 8000 ext. 678.
20 Commerce Drive Cranford NJ 07016
Article and photo courtesy of Plymouth Rock.