Keeping Healthy This Summer

With the passing of Memorial Day, summer 2015 is officially underway! For some, it’s been a long time coming. Thoughts of barbecues, swimming pools, and vacations have kept lots of people going during this especially tough winter nation-wide.

Now that summer is here, let’s make the best of it.

summer 01Getting the best enjoyment out of your summer plans comes when you and your family are able to be happy and healthy on all of your fun adventures and day to day bustle. Each summer, I get asked about a few of the same health issues that pop up, many of which can be prevented with a little planning.

Keeping a well-stocked first aid kit in your home will be absolutely critical in dealing with the usual summer illnesses and boo-boos. Check out my blog post from last month or recommendations on how to keep your first aid kit stocked.

This month I’m going to take you through some of the most common summer health issues and how to avoid them:

Mosquito Bites

It’s a fact: bugs bug people. Every summer comes with its fair share Keeping Healthy This Summerof mosquito bites, but these are not always harmless. For every itchy little bite comes with the risk of mosquito-borne illness. Some of these like West Nile Virus, you’ve probably heard of, and for good reason. Mosquito-borne illnesses can be some of the worst around.

It’s important to remember to take steps to limit your exposure to these pesky creatures. First and foremost, use insect repellant. Repellants with higher levels of DEET last the longest, but remember not to use products containing DEET on children under 6.

It’s also important to wear protective clothing. If you’re going on a hike, or heading into the woods, keeping as many clothes that are as comfortably as possible on will help prevent bites. Keeping your house and yard free of any still water will prevent mosquitos from colonizing near your home.

Click here to read more about insect bite prevention from the Mayo Clinic

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is one of the worst illnesses you could get this summer, maybe without even knowing it. It is common knowledge that certain types of ticks carry the disease, which if left untreated could stay with you for life.

summer 03Generally, the smaller varieties of ticks carry the risk of Lyme disease. If you notice a tick on your body, carefully remove it using tweezers, starting at the head of the insect. This is absolutely critical, as if you improperly remove the tick, parts of the insect’s body can get lodged under your skin.

If you notice a bite, look out for a red, circular rash in the shape of a bull’s eye. This is a tell-tale sign of a bite from a Lyme disease carrying tick. Contact your doctor immediately, and you can start receiving antibiotics, which can stop the disease in its tracks and keep it from spreading.

Click here to read more about Lyme disease from the CDC

Sun Safety

Last summer, I published a post about keeping your skin safe in the summer sun. From that post, you’ll remember that that overexposure to the sun’s powerful rays can cause skin cancer and other detrimental effects like wrinkles, destruction of elastic skin tissue, and skin lesions.

Wearing sun block is the best way to protect your skin. There is no other magic solution, so make sure to apply to all skin areas exposed to sun light before going out for a long period of time. SPF 30 is the minimum level of protection you will need against the sun’s rays.

If you end up with a sunburn, make sure to keep it cooled down with a cold, damp towel. Using aloe vera or other moisturizer will also help. Make sure to keep hydrated, and leave any blisters alone. If these are serious, make sure to contact your doctor.

Click here to catch up on my blog post about Sun Safety

Bee Stings

Bee stings are a common occurrence in the summer, especially with children. Some people have incredibly debilitating bee sting allergies, and so it is extremely important to monitor anyone with a bee sting to keep an eye out for signs of a reaction such as difficulty breathing or hives. The person may need to use an epi-pen or get emergency medical help.

summer 04That being said, most bee stings are painful for a little bit, but can easily be taken care of. The first thing to do for a bee sting is to immediately remove the stinger. Unlike with ticks, do not use tweezers for this purpose. They might cause any remaining venom in the stinger to be released into your blood stream. Instead, I recommend using a flat surface like a credit card to swipe away the stinger from a slight angle.

After that, make sure to control any swelling using a cold compress and/or taking an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen.

Click here to check out WebMD’s guide to bee stings

Motion Sickness

Whether it be on a long car ride on your vacation, aboard a summer 055sailing ship bound for fun, or strapped into a terrifyingly exciting roller coaster, sometimes too much fun can bring on motion sickness. This is incredibly common, but often people aren’t sure how to deal with it.

To prevent motion sickness, avoid excess food and drink. If you’re in a car or on a ride, find a seat where you can experience the least motion. If you’re in a car, this is usually in the front seat, and is usually in the middle of an airplane. Reading while traveling can bring on motion sickness, especially in those who are susceptible. Dramamine and similar product can help prevent the onset of motion sickness.

If you find yourself getting motion sickness, don’t worry too much, as the symptoms will pass. Keeping yourself isolated, and finding the most comfortable spot to sit will help your ride out the sickness until you feel better.

Check out this article for more tips on motion sickness

Thanks for reading and best wishes for a happy and summer,

Dr. Johnson