While many of us spend the cold, winter months dreaming of summer, it can bring with it a whole host of health problems to scupper your plans. But by being prepared, you can stay illness free over the coming months. Read our article below for some of the most common summer illnesses and how to avoid them.
Those who suffer from hay fever know the symptoms all too well. Sneezing, itchy eyes, headaches and a runny nose that plagues you for weeks, if months, at a time.
Unfortunate, hay fever canít be cured, but your symptoms can be managed. You could try:
- Putting Vaseline under your nose to trap pollen
- Wearing wraparound sunglasses to prevent pollen from getting into your eyes
- Shower and change your clothes after spending time outside
- Stay inside whenever possible and keep windows and doors closed
- Vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth
- Buy a pollen filter for your home and for the air vents of your car
- Get a vacuum cleaner with a special HEPA filter
Warm weather, humidity, and pollen can all trigger asthma. Asthma can cause wheezing, breathlessness, coughing, and a tight chest.
These symptoms can be relieved with an inhaler. If you find you are using your inhaler regularly, the NHS suggest that you pair it with a prevention inhaler to prevent asthma symptoms from occurring.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of asthma for the first time, you should see your GP as soon as possible.
Heat stroke and heat exhaustion can cause headache, dizziness, high temperature, excessive sweating, loss of appetite, and feeling sick. Heatstroke is not normally a serious condition if you can cool down within 30 minutes. However, if it turns into heat stroke, it can be very serious and should be treated as an emergency.
To prevent getting heat exhaustion and subsequent heat stroke, you should:
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially when exercising
- Take cool baths and showers during very hot weather
- Wear light coloured, loose clothing
- Sprinkle water over your skin or clothes to cool down
- Avoid the sun during the hottest point of the day, between 11 am and 3 pm
- Avoid excess alcohol and extreme exercise
- Wear a hat with a brim
If you are planning to be outside for longer than 30 minutes, you should make sure you properly protect your skin. Wear a high factor sunscreen and cover up or eek shade if you feel yourself burning.
The sunscreen you choose should ideally have both UVA and UVB filters. UVA protection is measured with a star rating, with 5 stars being the best. UVB is measured by SPF. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommend sunscreen should be a minimum of SPF 30. You should follow the instructions on the bottle for proper application technique and reapply liberally every 2 hours.
If your skin does burn you can relieve symptoms with a cool flannel or shower, aloe vera gel, and painkillers.
Because hot weather causes you to sweat more, you need to drink plenty of fluids to prevent yourself from becoming dehydrated. You can also prevent dehydration by eating cold foods with a high water content, like salad and fruit.
Excess caffeine, alcohol, and hot drinks should be avoided as these can cause you to urinate more.
If you notice symptoms like dry lips, mouth and eyes, feeling tired, feeling thirsty, or feeling lightheaded, itís a sign you need to drink more.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Also known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium from food. This is important for healthy teeth, bones and muscles.
During the winter in the UK it is recommended that you take a Vitamin D supplement, as you may not be getting enough Vitamin D naturally from sunlight. In summer, you can get your daily Vitamin D from simply standing in the sun for 15-20 minutes.
Bites and Stings
Bites and stings are common in summer, but they can cause irritating itching and swelling on the skin.
These symptoms can be easily treated. Simply wash the affected area with soap and water and use a cold compress (like a cold flannel), along with a hydrocortisone or antihistamine to help reduce swelling and itching.
Prickly heat, or heat rash, is caused by sweating that results in itchy, red spots or mild swelling.
It can be avoided by drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and keeping the skin cool. This can be achieved by wearing loose cotton clothing and using lightweight bedding.
Barbeques. A popular summer tradition with a worrying dark side. Undercooked food, or food prepared with questionable hygiene practices, can cause you to become unwell.
Be sure to wash hands frequently, keep raw meat separate from other food with its own cutting board and utensils, and ensure food is fully cooked before serving.