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Summer is a beautiful time to enjoy vacations and spend time with family, friends, making memories only if you are healthy. Here are some of the most common illnesses you should look out for this season.

Summer… the one season each year that’s synonymous with fun in the sun and great adventures outdoors. However, while you’re enjoying all the great summer activities it can be easy to forget how many health risks are lurking, waiting to catch their next victim. We want you to enjoy your summer without having to sacrifice days/weeks of fun treating infections/illnesses, so we’ve compiled this list of common health issues to stay on the lookout for this summer and how you can prevent them. 

Heat Related 

By virtue of summer being the hottest period of the year, the chances of heat exhaustion, heat rashes and heat stroke are also much higher. Heat rashes occur when you sweat too much and that sweat starts to collect in clothes that are worn all day. The constant rubbing against your skin can cause a rash to develop. The best way to prevent heat rashes: Apply talcum powder to avoid sweat accumulation in folds of skin and also try to clean these areas frequently.

Heat strokes are pretty serious, and require immediate treatment. If you or your child experiences a headache, cramps, weakness, vomiting, dry skin, high body temperature, rapid heart rate, or shallow breathing, it’s possible you’re experiencing a heat stroke. The best way to prevent heat stroke: Stay hydrated, use sunscreen, try to stay in shaded areas whenever possible and check out these tips for staying safe in the sun.  

Ear Infections

If you love spending your days on the beach/in the water, then you’re likely to contract an ear infection sometimes known as swimmer’s ear. When water gets lodged in the ear, bacteria can grow and cause the outer ear canal to become infected. Swimmer’s ear may result in the ear feeling full and itchy and can be extremely painful. Luckily, this infection is easily treatable with an over-the-counter antiseptic ear drops and can be prevented by wearing ear plugs when swimming. 

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease that affects over 300,000 Americans each year. Lyme disease often presents itself with rashes, flu-like symptoms, joint pain and constant fatigue in the first few weeks after a tick bite. If identified and treated early, Lyme disease is easily treatable with antibiotics. To prevent getting bitten in the first place, ensure you use tick repellent on yourself (and your pets) whenever you spend time outdoors. 

Food Poisoning

Foodborne illnesses often increase during the summer when temperatures range from 90 – 110 degrees Fahrenheit, according to this 2017 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report. Bacteria love warm, moist temperatures. On top of that, during the summer, a lot of people opt to cook outdoors, where its harder to keep utensils and hands clean. If you experience vomiting, diarrhea or stomach pain, you might have food poisoning. The best way to prevent food poisoning is by regularly washing your hands and keeping food prep areas and utensils clean. Never mix meat/fish with other foods, and separate raw foods or their juices from cooked foods. Refrigerate any food that might spoil quickly. 

 Summer Cold/Hay Fever

When you think seasonal allergies, you’re probably thinking about hay fever in the spring, but The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) says that “pollen, mold and insect stings are common allergy culprits during the summer months.” If you know that you or your child/ren are prone to summer allergies, ensure you keep your medication on hand when going outdoors.
If you don’t tend to suffer from seasonal allergies but find yourself coming down with cold-like symptoms (fever, runny nose, sore throat) then enterovirus might be to blame. Enterovirus is a summer virus that causes cold-like symptoms to develop. Similar to a common cold, you can use over-the-counter cold medicines to relieve symptoms.   

Bee Stings
Warm weather, lots of pollen and more people outdoors are just some of the reasons why bee stings often occur during the summer. Staying calm around bees is essential to ensuring you don’t get stung. However, if you do get stung, you should know what to do to minimize the effect. Pain, itching, swelling and redness are to be expected within 24 hours of a bee sting. If you or child gets stung, wash the area with soap and water. If a honeybee is the culprit, use something flat and hard (like a credit card) to scrape off the stinger. According to scripps.org, if your child has a history of severe anaphylactic reaction, including trouble breathing or swallowing, or widespread hives or facial swelling, you should talk to your pediatrician and make sure you have a current epinephrine pen (EpiPen, Twinject) and that you understand how to use it.

Coxsackie Virus

Coxsackie Virus is quite common during summer and fall, especially in cooler climates. This virus can cause flu-like symptoms but for about 50% of children that contract it, no symptoms are shown. Hand, foot and mouth disease is actually a type of Coxsackie virus that often occurs. This disease usually causes painful blisters on the tongue, gums, palms of hands and soles of the feet. The best way to prevent this virus is through the constant washing of hands. Most children recover from hand, foot and mouth within a week.

Poisonous Plants

Summer is a great time to see beautiful flowers and plants in full bloom, unfortunately, that includes poisonous plants too. While hiking, camping or spending time outdoors you might encounter poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac. These plants all have an oil in their leaves called urushiol that causes a painful and blistery rash on anyone that touches them. The best way to prevent a rash is by wearing long clothes when going outside, especially if you’re in a region that’s known for these plants. You can also decrease your risk by wearing a barrier cream and frequently bathing pets that go outside as it’s possible to catch it from them.  

There is no shortage of illnesses and conditions that can ruin your summer and make life unpleasant. Staying ahead of the game by keeping these common illnesses in mind and making sure you’re prepared to handle any of those situations is the first step to making your summer more enjoyable. No matter where your plans for this summer take you, stop in to Walker’s Drug Store for all your summer essentials and advice from some of the best pharmacists in the Ballantyne area.