From beach days to camping trips, many of us are looking forward to fun in the sun now that summer is here. But the summer season can be a host to health hazards that you’ll want to keep in mind. Consider the following tips to help you have a healthy summer.
Stay Cool: Prevent Heat-Related Illness
When temperatures rise, it’s important to be aware of the dangers that extreme heat can bring. Heat-related illnesses like heat stroke and heat exhaustion can affect anyone if they partake in strenuous physical activities in the hot weather. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), certain people are at higher risk – like the elderly, children, people with chronic diseases, and people with mental illness.1
You can avoid heat-related illness by:2
- Planning ahead: organize outdoor activities on cool days or in the morning or evening
- Taking care when exercising during hot weather: most heat-related illnesses are due to overexposure or overexercising3
- Dressing appropriately: try lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
- Choosing a cool space: seek a cool, air conditioned environment during extreme heat. If you do not have access to air conditioning, call your local health department to inquire about heat-relief shelters in your area.
Drinking fluids – especially water – is particularly important in the summer months, and is another important way to prevent heat-related illness. Summer tips for hydration include:2
- Drinking fluids throughout the day: even before you’re thirsty
- Avoiding sugary and alcoholic drinks: these can cause you to lose body fluid
- Replacing salt and minerals: according to the CDC, sports drinks can replace the salt and minerals lost during periods of heavy sweating. If you are on a low-salt diet, have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic conditions, consult your healthcare provider before consuming a sports drink.
Stay Safe in the Sun
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., and most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to UV (ultraviolet) rays, according so the CDC.4 You can help protect yourself from the sun’s UV rays by: 4
- Using sunscreen: apply an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher to exposed skin before you go outside. Be sure to reapply during prolonged sun exposure and after swimming, sweating, and toweling off.
- Considering protective clothing: when practical, wearing clothing that covers your skin can provide protection from UV rays. Brimmed hats also offer shade, but be sure to apply sunscreen to potentially exposed areas like the back of your neck.
- Finding a shady spot: the shade can reduce your risk of sun damage and skin cancer, though the CDC advises sunscreen or protective wear even in the shade.
- Wearing sunglasses: more than just a fashion statement, sunglasses can protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, reducing the risk of cataracts as well as protecting the skin around your eyes.
Beware of Bugs
No one likes bug bites, but protecting yourself from pesky insects like mosquitoes and ticks may be more important than you think. Ticks can carry Lyme disease – a bacterial infection transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick – and though most mosquitoes are just nuisance mosquitoes, according to the CDC, some can spread viruses like West Nile, or Zika virus.5,6
Bug spray can go a long way to help protect against insect bites. According to the CDC, EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)-registered insect repellents with DEET, picadarin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone are proven effective and safe when used as directed. When using insect repellent, remember to reapply according to product instructions. If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.7
Take extra precaution for ticks in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. After coming indoors – check your gear, clothing, body, and pets for ticks, and consider showering promptly.8
BioReference Can Support Summer Health
For answers beyond preventive summer tips, seek guidance from your healthcare provider to learn more about your health. BioReference offers a variety of tests to assist healthcare providers in the diagnosis and management of conditions that may be on your mind this summer such as Lyme disease, allergies, skin cancer, and more. Stay on top of your health this summer, and speak with your healthcare provider to discuss if diagnostic testing is right for you at this time.