With the return of summer just one month away, now is a good time to remind everyone that the season comes with its unique set of health concerns. In this article, we will delve into several common summer health ailments, exploring their causes, effects, and prevention measures.
Heat-related illnesses stand at the forefront of summer health issues, with dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke being the most common. Dehydration is often the precursor to these other two conditions, as it arises when the body loses more fluids than it takes in. This may happen due to increased sweating from the heat, insufficient water intake, or engaging in strenuous physical activities. Symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, fatigue, and dizziness. If dehydration goes unaddressed, it could escalate into heat exhaustion, which involves heavy sweating, rapid pulse, and cool, moist skin. Left unchecked, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, a severe condition characterized by a body temperature of 40 degrees Celsius or higher, headache, nausea, and a possible loss of consciousness. Heat-related illnesses are particularly problematic because they tend to sneak up on individuals unawares. It’s crucial, therefore, to remain well-hydrated, avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, and take regular breaks when involved in physical activities. A tip for those planning to spend a lot of time outdoors: keep a water bottle at hand and use sunscreen liberally.
However, the heat isn’t the only thing causing health issues during the summer months. Insects, particularly mosquitoes, ticks, and bees, become more active, increasing the risk of insect-borne diseases. Mosquitoes, for instance, can transmit West Nile Virus, an infection that can lead to fever, headache, body aches, and, in severe cases, meningitis or encephalitis. Ticks, on the other hand, can carry Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that can cause fatigue, skin rash, and joint pain. It’s advisable to use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, and conduct regular body checks after being outdoors to minimize the risk of insect bites.
Another often overlooked summer health ailment revolves around food safety. During outdoor barbecues and picnics, food is more susceptible to bacterial growth, which can lead to foodborne illnesses. These illnesses can cause symptoms ranging from mild stomach upset to severe conditions such as vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Practicing proper food handling and storage, especially for perishable items like meat, dairy, and eggs, is vital to prevent these illnesses.
The allure of the sparkling waters also invites certain health risks. The increased frequency of swimming during summer months can lead to swimmer’s ear, an infection caused by water remaining in the ear after swimming, creating a moist environment where bacteria can grow. Symptoms include ear pain, itchiness, and possibly drainage. Good swimming hygiene and using a towel to dry ears can help to mitigate this risk.
Finally, summer sun can cause skin damage, leading to conditions such as sunburn, premature skin ageing, and even skin cancer. The ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is harmful and can affect any exposed skin. Wearing hats, sunglasses, and UV-protective clothing, alongside regular application of broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, can shield the skin from harmful UV rays.
While summer in Canada is a time for fun-filled outdoor activities, it’s essential to always remain mindful of the associated health risks, and take proactive measures whenever possible.