Contributed by –Dr. Snehal Singh
Summer season is a time of lazy afternoons, cool drinks, long vacations, family time, good food and tons of memories. But, summer is not all fun and games; it also means sweaty days, intolerable heat, stomach ailments, heat stroke, dehydration etc.
Seasonal health problems are not a stranger, as each season brings a bunch of health problems with it. Summer is no exception. Along with summers comes a number of health disorders that are capable of making life a complete mess. Health being a major concern needs are proper care and attention, knowledge about the common summer ailments will aid in proper health management and a happy summer.
The most common summer problem, dehydration is lack of adequate amount of water in the body. Dehydration can be marked with symptoms like dry throat, lethargy, frequent headaches, muscle cramps, dry skin and reduction in urine. Dehydration although really common is a matter of huge concern as it can lead to severe health complications. Anybody can fall victim to dehydration during the hot summer season and people engaged in strenuous physical activities are at greater risk.
The only way to keep dehydration at bay is to stay hydrated; drink plenty of water, lime juice, fresh fruit juices, fruits that have high water content like melons and citrus fruits. If there are signs of dehydration, oral re-hydration salts can be taken with water or as advised.
Food poisoning is not majorly a seasonal problem but the hot weather sees an increase in the number of such cases. Spoilage of food and beverages is much more common in this season which often leads to stomach ailments. Food prepared in advance or kept out for long can easily get infected with bacteria. Raw vegetables, fruits, raw meat and can also get contaminated if not stored properly. Common food poisoning symptoms include nausea, vomiting, loose motions, stomach pain, cramps and sometimes fever. Apart from this, typhoid, jaundice and other food-borne infections are also common in summer. Blood tests can help detect these infections and appropriate treatment can be given accordingly.
The best way to prevent such infections is to handle food carefully and wash hands properly to avoid contamination. Food should be well-cooked and left overs must be stored in the refrigerator, avoid eating outside during this season.
Cold And Flu
Viral infections are common even during summer and can cause cold and flu. In fact, summer flu can be really unpleasant and accompanied with gastric problems. The common symptoms include fever, cold, stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, burning eyes and stomach pain, in some cases. While it resolves on its own in a few days, some may need blood tests to rule out other infections.
To prevent cold and flu in summer, maintain proper hygiene and avoid extreme temperatures. Avoid taking cold beverages and have a balanced diet. Have healthy breakfast and do regular exercises to maintain good health.
To find relief in summer, most people prefer enjoying swimming and recreational water activities. However, it is not completely safe, water borne illnesses can spread through such activities. It can cause skin, ear and eye infections, gastric and respiratory problems, some of which can cause serious complications. It is best to consult a physician and do appropriate investigations as advised.
The best way to prevent water infections is to make sure the pool is cleaned regularly and chlorinated as recommended. Also, wearing proper swimming gear, taking shower before and after pool activities helps.
Viral infections like conjunctivitis (pink eye), measles, chicken pox and mumps are also on the rise in summers.
- Conjunctivitis means red and itchy eyes with sticky discharge from the eyes
- Measles is identified with runny nose, cough, fever and small red spots or measles rash on face and trunk
- Chicken pox is noted as small red boils all over the body and usually affect children. The boils can ooze out a fluid that is highly contagious
- Mumps are also transmitted through coughing and sneezing and affect children more commonly. It presents with fever, cough, headache, muscle pain, fatigue and swelling of the salivary glands with throat pain
These are contagious and need proper medical care. Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and that for chicken pox is recommended in children for prevention. To protect the eyes, wash them often with cold water. Avoid sharing of eye care items, keep hands clean and avoid touching eyes to prevent infections.
Heat rash or prickly heat can occur due to excessive sweating in summer can be truly troublesome. While it can affect anyone, babies, children and people involved in physical activities are are more prone to it. It appears as small red, prickly spots, commonly on the armpits, neck, back, chest and thighs.
Skin allergies and rashes can be worse for some during summer, mainly due to sweating. Sweat laden clothes often cause skin irritation and itching, which can lead to rash and aggravate skin allergies. Eczema, hives and other skin infections are often on the rise in summer.
To stay clear of heat rash and skin allergies, it is important to clean off the sweat and have a bath. Prickly heat powder may be helpful for some. Wear cotton clothes and change sweat laden clothing. It is advisable to seek medical opinion and get allergy tests done, if appropriate.
In heated environment, the commonest trouble faced by many people is headache. Be it a sports activity outside or a simple daily routine, summer can worsen headaches and migraines. Also, some people may be oversensitive to sun exposure and may see a steep rise in headache episodes during summer. Headache may be associated with nauseous feeling, pain around the eyes, intolerance to light, noise or smell and sometimes vomiting.
Heat stroke is caused due to exposure to high temperatures during summer. Marked with dizziness, weakness, severe headache, nausea, vomiting, breathing difficulty and sometimes seizures, heat stroke is a cause of major concern. An extremely serious condition that needs immediate medical attention to normalize body temperature.
To prevent heat stroke, wear lighter clothes and take appropriate precautions. Get good sleep at night, maintain hydration by drinking plenty of water and stay in cooler place to avoid headache in summer. Wear sunglasses, caps or use umbrellas to protect yourself from the sun. If needed, take medical opinion to consider preventive medications for migraine.
Stay indoors when it is too hot. If you note signs of summer problems, get a medical opinion and perform necessary blood tests, as advised.
Summers can be a lot of fun with a little bit of precaution and knowledge about the health problems.
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