Being outdoors with family and friends is one of the definite perks of the summer. However, there are some situations and illnesses that are more prevalent during this time of the year. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Lengthy periods of time in the heat can be quite dangerous. If someone’s internal temperature hits 100 degrees, heat exhaustion is like to occur. Some of the symptoms include:
- Muscle cramps
- Flushed look to the skin
If you start feeling this way, move into a cooler area, drink water carefully, and remove any tight clothing.
A step beyond heat exhaustion is heatstroke. That is when your core temperature is between 104 and 106 degrees. These symptoms include:
- Slurred speech
Call 9-1-1 or head to the nearest emergency room. If you opt for urgent care, they will only refer you for more intense medical attention.
Preventive measures include dressing appropriately in breathable fabrics. That means no polyester or nylon. Stick to cotton, linen and jersey. Also the clothing should be lightweight and loose fitting. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol consumption since the booze will only tend to dehydrate you further. If you are active outdoors with gardening, exercise, or games, plan on at least 8 ounces of water each hour.
Insects and Spiders
More than annoying mosquitoes carry bacteria and viruses that can be very serious. If you are out at dawn and dusk, the times when the wind is the calmest, be sure to use an anti-mosquito repellent. If you are nailed, wash the area with soap and water; use an ice pack for 10 minutes to reduce swelling; a combination of baking soda and water will help reduce the itching.
If you are anywhere near a wooded area, be alert for ticks. This is an arachnid (like spiders) and they carry several dangerous diseases. They love to latch onto your pets and will migrate to you if you are not careful. Symptoms include fever, body ache, and rash. If you believe you have been bitten by a tick, seek medical attention quickly.
Most spiders in the United States are not dangerous but if you are bitten you probably won’t notice it for hours. There is usually a red welt, swelling and some skin damage. There can also be itching or pain around the area. If you find difficulty breathing, muscle pain, or nausea, seek immediate medical attention. If you have any idea which species bit you or any pertinent information (working in the basement, pulling weeds, etc.) make sure the doctor understands.
Food-borne problems are more prevalent in the summer months because bacteria love the warm, moist temperatures and temperature controls like refrigeration are not followed. Leaving food exposed for too long can make people sick. Anything that should be kept chilled (mayonnaise dressings, etc.) should be stored in coolers. Don’t over pack the cooler either. Make sure the cold air can circulate so that all the food is kept at the right temperature. Be sure to cook proteins thoroughly.