As summer begins, most people are ready to step outside and enjoy some outdoor fun! And we need to keep in mind, some summer activities bring additional risks to your health. With soaring temps and harsh sunlight, even leisurely activities come with hidden dangers. Stay safe this summer with some simple summer health precautions.
Dehydration can happen quickly in the summer heat. Stay hydrated throughout the day by steadily drinking water and not waiting until you're thirsty. Avoid sugary, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks, which cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks because they can cause stomach cramps. Try fresh foods with high water content, such as watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumber, celery and lettuce.
Symptoms of dehydration can differ depending on your age. A young child or infant who’s dehydrated won’t shed tears while crying and may have sunken eyes or a dry mouth. Dehydrated adults may feel fatigued and thirsty. Dizziness and confusion are also possible symptoms. Dark-colored urine is a common sign you’re not drinking enough water. Be sure to take frequent water breaks during summer activities.
Avoid Extreme Heat
Heat exhaustion comes with many unpleasant symptoms, including increased pulse, dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea and headache and can lead to heatstroke.
When overheating does occur, it's important to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies four stages of heat-related illness: heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke is a serious life-threatening medical condition when the body’s temperature rises. Much like a fever, extremely high body temperatures can lead to permanent damage. Signs of heat stroke include confusion, rapid breathing, no sweating and a fast pulse. Without care, heatstroke can cause damage to vital organs and muscles and can even be fatal. If you notice the symptoms of heat exhaustion, seek cool shelter and refrain from physical activities so you can rest and hydrate.
You should also take the following precautions on sweltering days to reduce your risk of heat-related illnesses:
Know your risk level. Children, older adults and people with chronic diseases are at highest risk. However, even young and healthy people can be affected if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.
Reserve outdoor physical activities for mornings or evenings, when the weather is coolest. Avoid high-intensity activities during midday.
Wear flowy, lightweight clothes instead of tight and heavy outfits that hold in heat.
Prevent Food Poisoning
The CDC estimates 48 million people suffer from food poisoning each year in the U.S. Summertime is picnic time, and picnics bring food outdoors where it can stay warm too long. Certain foods, including meat and dairy products, if left unrefrigerated for too long, will be unsafe to eat due to bacterial growth.
Use the following tips to steer clear of food poisoning:
Get rid of perishable food left at room temperature for more than a couple of hours.
Pack perishable food in a cooler along with ice.
Use a meat thermometer to ensure any grilled meat is at a safe temperature.
If you do develop a case of food poisoning, you’ll likely have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Drink clear fluids to avoid dehydration. Slowly begin eating bland food, such as toast, as you start to feel better.
Summer is a great time to be outside and enjoy the season with your loved ones. A little bit of careful prevention and awareness can keep your summer safe!
About the Author Natasha Kataria, MD, specializes in Internal Medicine. She earned her medical degree from the Government Medical College, Amritsar, Punjab, India and completed her residency at Freeman Health System in Joplin, Missouri.
Freeman Primary Care at Webb City Neighborhood Care offers care for patients age 18 and older. We specialize in high-quality care personal health care giving patients a place to bring their health concerns, prevent disease and find health problems early. Call our office at 417.347.4967 for an appointment.