What are the causes of illness in summer?

Summer season is much anticipated in many seasonal countries. Although it is fun to enjoy longer daylights and outdoor recreational activities, one can never be too careful. Illnesses in summer are often caused by the exposure to warmer temperatures, extreme sunlight, pollen, heightened growth of bacteria and all sorts of risks involving outdoors activities. Just as cold and flu are common during winter, these are a few common summer diseases.

  1. Exposure to heat and sun

As people spend more time outdoors under the hot sun, children and adults who are not careful may result in extremely high body temperature, causing sunstroke. It presents a rapid pulse, disorientation, nausea, dry swollen tongue and red hot skin. In severe cases, individuals can become unconscious. Sunstroke is dangerous which requires urgent medical attention. Avoiding playing directly under the hot sun and ensuring good hydration by drinking lots of water can help to prevent sunstroke. Besides, individuals wearing thick heavy clothing in heat are prone to get heat rash. It is a reddish skin lesion, commonly on the head, neck and shoulders. It is due to blocked sweat glands which become swollen, causing itch and discomfort. To prevent heat rash, wear light thin clothing. It is a mild condition and usually disappears after a few days.

  1. Exposure to pollens or other allergens

Many may have heard of hay fever (allergic rhinitis), presenting like the common cold, such as runny nose, itchy eyes, nasal congestions and sneezing. It usually worsens during spring and summer due to the pollen. Nasal corticosteroid sprays are helpful to ease the symptoms. For individuals who suffer from eczema, the exposure to the sun, chlorine in the swimming pool or sweat may aggravate symptoms of eczema. Eczema is a chronic skin disease due to hypersensitive skin, causing skin irritation, rashes and peeling. To avoid triggering eczema, wipe off sweat to avoid build-up on skin. Apply hypoallergenic sunscreen of at least SPF 30 and moisturiser. Wearing well dry, clean, cotton clothes enable skin ventilation, reducing irritation.

  1. Exposure to insects

Being outdoors also exposes to bee stings. It can be traumatic even for adults. Avoid places with hives of bees, and remain calm. Swatting and flailing limbs only increases the risk of bee stings. Visit the emergency immediately once stung.

  1. Exposure to infections

Lyme disease is a disease spread by ticks. It is more common during the summer as people are more exposed to ticks in outdoors woods and grasslands. Proper measures to prevent tick bites are wearing long sleeves clothes, pants and shoes, and applying insect repellent. Another common summer disease in coxsackie. Coxsackievirus can cause mild flu-like symptoms or serious disease like Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD). There is no vaccine for this virus, but hand washing has proven to be effective in preventing contracting coxsackie. On the other hand, swimming outdoors increases the risk of one getting swimmer’s ear, which is an outer ear canal infection when water is trapped in the ear. The water provides a moist environment that favours bacterial growth. This results in ear fullness, itchiness and pain. Partial hearing loss may occur. Treat the swimmer’s ear with antiseptic ear drops which are available over the counter.

  1. Exposure to contaminated food

In warmer temperatures, bacteria grow rapidly, especially in food. Therefore, food poisoning is quite common during the summer season. Outdoor activities like picnics and camps also contribute to the consumption of contaminated food. Symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fever. Ensure food is well covered, cook and practise good hygiene before and after eating. Wash hands before touching food, especially children who may touch dirt while playing outdoors.

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