Tips to Stay Healthy During the Summer

Summer background, orange sky with glowing sun

Hot summer or heat wave background, orange sky with glowing sun

  • Photosensitivity

When out in the sun, you may experience photosensitivity if you are taking certain medications. It is an allergic reaction to the sun caused by your immune system.  It most often appears as a red itchy rash.  A few of the most well-known medications that can cause photosensitivity are antibiotics, especially tetracyclines, quinolones and sulfonamides;  diuretics taken for high blood pressure; and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) remedies such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and others) and naproxen (Aleve and others); and certain topical medications can also cause a reaction.  Prevention of photosensitivity is the same as preventing sunburn: limit sun exposure especially between 10AM – 4PM, wear protective clothing and apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more.  Don’t forget to re-apply often, especially after swimming and sweating.

  • Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can affect anyone but the biggest risk is for those under 4 and over 65 and those with chronic medical conditions.  Our body usually can control its temperature but if you stay outside in the extreme heat for too long and don’t drink fluids, you can experience heat exhaustion.  Symptoms often include headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, confusion and fatigue.  If steps are not taken to reduce your temperature, your temperature could escalate and you could have heatstroke.  Don’t let this happen!  It is a very serious medical emergency.

Drinking water is essential.  Do not rely on caffeinated drinks or alcohol since they contribute to dehydration.  Stay inside on very hot days if you have air conditioning.  If you don’t have air conditioning at home, go to a mall or a movie theatre during the hottest daytime hours.  A cool shower or bath can also help to reduce your temperature and applying cool, wet cloths to your skin can help too.

  • Dehydration

Couple staying hydratedMany people want to enjoy outside summer activities such as bicycling, walking and kayaking to name a few.  While physical activities are great for your health, it is important to drink plenty of fluids throughout the course of the day to replenish fluid you lose from being in the heat especially if you are physically active.  If it is going to be a hot day, physical activity should take place first thing in the morning.

People over 65 are particularly at risk for dehydration.  Did you know that as you age the sense of thirst diminishes?  It’s not known exactly what causes this reduction in thirst, but the consequences of it are well known.  Dehydration is a common cause of hospitalization among elderly people.

Seniors are also at greater risk for dehydration because of how body composition changes with age. Older adults have less water in their bodies to start with than younger adults or children.  Also, some medications can contribute to dehydration such as diuretics, antihistamines and laxatives.

The symptoms of dehydration often go unrecognized such as dry mouth, fatigue and dizziness. If you develop these symptoms, get into a cool, dry place and drink plenty of water.  Eat lightly and include fruit – a good source of fluids.

  • Drowning

Swimming is probably the most common summer activity for children and adults.  What is more inviting on a hot summer day than a sparkling pool, lake or the ocean!  Most children will spend hours playing in the water when given the opportunity, but adult supervision is crucial.  Even when children can swim, they should be constantly supervised.

Child learning to swim. Kids in swimming pool.

Muscle cramps can occur quickly and when someone is in trouble, you probably won’t see them struggle.  People naturally use their arms to try and keep themselves above water so they can’t wave for help and someone who is drowning usually can’t make a sound so you won’t hear a scream.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), on average, more than 10 people die from drowning each day, mostly children.  The most important thing you can do is prevent drowning by making sure pools have fencing over 4 feet high with secure gates; limit use of alcohol and watch children at all times.  For adults, practice the buddy system when swimming in a lake or the ocean.

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