Living with Chronic Pain
Summer Health Hazards
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Summer is often a great time to enjoy the outdoors, but it also comes with health hazards. Here are some of the most common summer health hazards and tips to avoid them.
- Heat stroke and heat exhaustion — Heat-related illnesses occur when the body cannot cool down after prolonged exposure to excessive heat. Children under the age of four are most at risk. Symptoms include a body temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, headache, fast pulse, nausea/vomiting, or loss of consciousness. To avoid heat-related illnesses, stay inside during the hottest part of the day. While outside, stay hydrated and take plenty of breaks in the shade.
- Dehydration — Dehydration can occur any time of year, but it is much more common in the summer when people are outside in the warm sun. To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of water. When spending time outside in the heat, aim for 16 ounces of water every hour. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can make dehydration worse.
- Sunburn — Time in the sun without proper protection can lead to sunburn, which can cause wrinkles, sun spots, and skin cancer. To stay safe in the sun, use a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Apply sunscreen even on sunny days. Reapply every three hours (more often if swimming or sweating). Avoid being in the sun during midday when the sun’s rays are strongest.
- Insect bites — Not only are insect bites uncomfortable, but insects can transmit serious illnesses such as West Nile virus, Dengue fever, and Lyme disease. Prevent bug bites by using insect repellent containing 10-30% DEET. Wear long sleeves and long pants. In areas with possible tick exposure, check the body for ticks, bathe or shower within two hours after being outdoors, wash clothes in hot water, and dry them on high heat.
- Food poisoning — Food can spoil quickly in the heat of summer, leading to gastrointestinal issues. During cookouts, be sure to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Do not keep foods at room temperature longer than two hours or one hour if the outdoor temperature is 90 degrees or higher. Never put cooked meat, fish, or poultry back on the same plate that held the raw food.
- Foot and ankle injuries — Certain foot and ankle injuries are more common in the summer because people are more likely to go barefoot or wear footwear without proper support. Walking around barefoot can lead to puncture wounds from seashells or discarded nails and glass. Avoid wearing flip-flops that can be bent in half as they do not provide enough support for the foot and ankle, potentially leading to injuries.