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Summertime Health

published on 06-24-2008

Summertime Health

The official first day of summer is fast is approaching and most of us are longing for those beautiful summer days and outdoor activities. It also brings with it some special health concerns and issues, and while I would never discourage anyone from partaking in summertime activities I encourage everyone do so with a few precautions.

family_bicycle_400Sun Exposure: There is no such thing as a "healthy tan" or "good sunburn". Skin cancer is diagnosed more than a million times per year and using sunscreen is a key in avoiding this disease. I recommend always using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, especially if you have lighter or sensitive skin and are going to be outside during the most sun-intensive times of the day. Weather.com provides a useful tool to get your "personalized SPF recommendation" based on your zip code, date, time, and skin type. Give it a try: http://www.weather.com/activities/health/skin/?from=breadcrumbs. To avoid sunburn head indoors or find shade at the first sign of skin redness, apply a cool compress, use a soothing over-the-counter topical agent, and acetaminophen or ibuprofen to provide some relief. If the skin blisters, by definition you have a second degree burn. These are more serious and have a higher instance of becoming infected. If the burn shows signs of possible infection: increasing redness, increasing pain or drainage, or if the burned area is large or on a young child, medical attention may be warranted.

Heat Illness:
Summertime is also the time of year that heat exhaustion and heat stroke most often occur. Anyone can be a victim of heat illness but the elderly, young, and those with chronic medical conditions are most at risk. To help prevent heat illness: wear lightweight, light colored clothing and a hat when out in the sun, drink plenty of water, avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages as they can dehydrate you and remember to take frequent breaks from physical activities when it’s hot. One of the first symptoms of heat illness is often muscle cramps. Heat exhaustion is typically characterized by cool moist skin, headache, dizziness, weakness, fatigue, and nausea. Anyone with these symptoms should cease physical activity, drink water, and get shade as soon as possible. If they don’t feel better quickly they should seek medical attention. Heat stroke is more severe and can include vomiting, decreased level or loss of consciousness, elevated body temperature, rapid pulse, and rapid, shallow breathing. The skin may still be moist from sweat or it may be dry, red, and hot. Heat stroke can be life-threatening and you should go immediately to the Urgent Care at Plum Creek Medical.

Water Safety: Swimming and boating can be great summertime activities but safety and common sense are the keys to enjoying them without injury. This is especially true for children as drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children. Children should always be directly supervised whenever they are in or around water. Summertime is a great time to take a swim lesson and you’re never too old (or too young) to learn. Also, remember that you should never drink alcohol while swimming or boating.

Bike Safety: Injuries associated with bike riding are very common. Approximately 300,000 children have bicycle related injuries every year. Head injuries are often the most catastrophic injury associated with bicycling and can be avoided with a properly fitted helmet, it doesn’t do you any good if it’s sitting in the garage while you’re out riding, so be sure to put it on every time you ride your bike. Always wear bright, visible clothing, ride on a bike path whenever possible, ride with traffic, single file, and always obey traffic signals so your. A good review of bicycle safety and hand signals: http://www.expertvillage.com/video/15964_bike-hand-signals.htm.
These are just a few reminders of how to safely enjoy summertime. If you do experience to a summertime health issue come see us at Plum Creek Medical.

To your health,

Brett J. Walker, M.D.




The use of this site is for information purposes only and is not intended nor suited to be a replacement or substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. The information on this site does not establish a doctor/patient relationship. Plum Creek Medical does not claim responsibility for medical information not specifically prescribed by our staff. Information on this Web site is subject to change and is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.



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