Summer can be a time for rest, games and long days of outdoor fun, but it also comes with some seasonal health risks. By taking simple precautions, we can keep them at bay and make summer more enjoyable and safer.
With sunny days, hot weather, and outdoor activities, summer comes with the risk of sunburn, allergies, insect bites, and other potential issues that can affect our health.
Here are some tips for a healthy, disease-free summer.
1 Summer is the perfect time to get out and be active
Summer can be a great time for people who want to get more physical activity and improve their fitness. Longer days and summer vacations provide additional opportunities for leisure activities that can also boost our health. Even so, in places where summer temperatures soar, it can be tempting to stay indoors, sometimes with the air conditioning on.
However, when the weather is very hot, early morning and late afternoon can be perfect times to get out and walk.
Here are some examples of outdoor leisure activities one can choose to boost their physical activity in the summer:
– take a long-distance walk or hike
– visit a zoo or other outdoor recreation center
– explore a nature reserve or park
– cycling along the ocean or in the forest
– jogging or swimming
Most of us know that physical activity can promote and improve our mental health, prevent or combat obesity, improve our physical fitness and the quality of our sleep. Additionally, physical activity is thought to reduce the risk of several cancers, heart problems and psoriasis, and improve cognition in children and the elderly.
2 Always think about sun protection
Sunlight is an excellent source of vitamin D, and people need a little sun exposure each day to stay healthy. However, too much UV from the sun can be dangerous and contribute to skin damage and cancer risk. This is because UVA and UVB are the two different forms of sunlight in the atmosphere.
UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin, damaging connective tissues and blood vessels. Excessive UVA exposure can lead to loss of elasticity, wrinkles and premature aging of the skin. On the other hand, UVB rays do not reach a deep layer of the skin. However, they cause immediate redness and skin damage that people associate with sunburn.
Many skin cancers can develop as a result of overexposure to UVA rays, and medical professionals are still researching the exact reasons for this phenomenon. One of the theories is that UVA can lead to oxidative stress. This state in the body is an imbalance between the free radical molecules that contribute to disease and the antioxidants that protect the body.
To protect the skin from UVA rays, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. The product you choose should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 50. SPF indicates how long it takes the sun to burn your skin. An SPF of 50 means that the burn will take 50 minutes if the person applies the sunscreen correctly and only lets through 2% of UVA and UVB rays.
People at higher risk for skin cancer should use sunscreen with a higher SPF. People of all skin types should be sure to reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating. Wearing protective clothing and staying in the shade are also effective ways to reduce the risk of sunburn.
Sunscreens are available from pharmacies and drugstores, and there is a wide range available to buy online.
3 Staying hydrated is vital in hot weather.
In hot weather, staying hydrated is key to replenishing the fluids the body loses through sweat. Beverages that contain alcohol or caffeine are not effective against dehydration. In fact, they can increase the body’s fluid production, making it harder for a person to stay properly hydrated.
The signs of dehydration are:
– dry mouth
– little or no urination
– muscle cramps
Dehydration should be avoided, as it can lead to a number of dangerous complications, such as kidney damage, kidney failure, and shock.
4 Stay cool
Heat exhaustion in sweltering weather can cause the following symptoms:
– cool, moist skin with goosebumps in hot weather
– profuse sweating
– dizziness, nausea and headache
– weak and rapid pulse and low blood pressure when standing
– muscle cramps
Anyone experiencing heat exhaustion should stop and rest, seek shelter out of direct sunlight and in a cool place, and drink plenty of water or sports drinks. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, a condition that can be fatal.
Heat stroke occurs when the body temperature exceeds 40°C and the body can no longer cool itself. This is a medical emergency that can lead to death.
The following measures can help reduce the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke:
– wear light clothes
– avoid direct sunlight
– use the air conditioning
– to drink a lot of water
– avoid heavy meals
Seizures can occur if a person’s body does not have enough of a chemical scientists call electrolytes. Electrolytes send electrical signals between cells. When electrolyte levels get too low, these signals don’t work properly. An electrolyte imbalance can lead to the involuntary muscle contractions that occur during seizures.
Cerebral edema can also occur when a person drinks after being dehydrated. The body sends water to the cells after it passes through the digestive system. However, this reaction can send too much, causing cells to swell and rupture. If it happens in the brain, it can be extremely dangerous.
When exercising, it’s a good idea to always carry a water bottle with you.
5 Protect yourself against insects
Applying mosquito spray can help keep biting insects away. Insects that sting during the summer are bees, wasps and hornets.
A person who spends a lot of time outdoors, especially in hot climates, can use insect repellent.
Stings and bites can lead to allergic reactions and infections.
Tips for preventing insect bites include:
– Keep windows and doors closed.
– Dispose of garbage as often as possible.
– Always wear closed-toed shoes.
– Avoid using too much perfume.
– Avoid wearing dark colors or floral prints that can attract wasps.
If an insect bites a person who then has an allergic reaction, the person should immediately seek medical attention.
Applying an ice pack or cold cloth and taking ibuprofen or another over-the-counter pain reliever can also lessen the discomfort of an insect bite. An antihistamine can reduce itching and swelling.
Backyard barbecues, sweets and protein can attract wasps and hornets.
6 Heat and Fire
Heat and fire can be risk factors for people who engage in outdoor summer activities.
Here is a list of safety tips to reduce the risk of heat and fire related accidents during the summer holidays.
It is recommended as security measures:
– Keep barbecues away from anything that may be flammable. Check grill for leaks, dents or cracks
– During fireworks organized for summer celebrations, such as Bastille Day, stay at least 300 meters away from the fireworks. Keep children away from fireworks or used candles.
– If the car radiator overheats, wait for the engine to cool down before removing the cap.
In conclusion, to stay healthy during the heat of summer while having fun, you just need to be well prepared and attentive. Just remember to stay safe in the sun, stay hydrated and don’t get bitten, if possible.
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