Summer is fun time for most part, but for the illnesses in this season. While the season calls for recreational activities, beach outings and celebrations, summer related illnesses like skin diseases, sore eyes, sunburn, heat stroke are also part of it. With rising temperature and the humidity, the risk of heat related illness also increases. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are some of the most common risks with sports persons. According to the March 2015 Annual Survey of Football Injury Research, 4 to 5 players die each year from heat stroke.
Signs and symptoms of heat related illness include:
- Lethargy or Coma
- Death (in extreme situations)
Who are at a risk for heat illness?
- Dr. Shovita Padhi, deputy medical health officer with the Saskatoon Health Region, says “Babies, elderly, pregnant women and people who are on certain medications, certain medications can predispose you to having an increased core body temperature.”
- Also anyone who over exert themselves under the sun, the overweight or those poorly acclimatized to the high temperatures.
Common heat-related illness:
- Dehydration: "It happens to people who play out in the sun for extended period of time or to daily-wage laborers involved in manual work. And if they are not taking enough water it causes hypertension” says Dr Dinesh Narasimhan, a physician. Children often tend to get dehydrated with play and sweat. Dehydration elevates the risk of other heat-related illnesses because it interferes with the body's ability to modify temperature. Low or no urine output, thirst, sticky mouth, dizziness, chills and sunken eyes are all symptoms of dehydration.
- Urinary tract infection (UTI): UTI is another common problem that affects the children and adults. Dr Saraswathi, a gynaecologist of K G Hospitals and Kongunadu Hospital, says "A lot of women do not realize that their body is getting dehydrated and so, do not drink enough water making themselves vulnerable to infection."
- Chicken pox and Dengue: Dr D Dhandapani of Sri Balaji Hospital, Sundarapuram informs that the incidence of chickenpox is on the rise every year due to the virus that spreads rapidly during the heat.
- Sunburn: Sunburn refers to the burn caused to a living tissue by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation. A reddish skin, fatigue and mild dizziness are some of the symptoms of sunburn. However, if sun burn is further exposed to the UV rays, it may cause skin cancer.
- Heat stroke: Heat stroke is another common summer disease, which if neglected can be fatal. Breathing problems, high body temperature, rapid pulse and confusion are all symptoms of heat stroke.
- Diarrhea: Diarrhea is very common in hot summer months caused by eating spoilt food. Consuming unsafe drinking water and contaminated food results in diarrhea. It can be prevented by consuming hygienically prepared food and clean water.
5 tips to prevent summer illness:
- Increase Fluid intake: Consuming more of non-alcoholic fluids, even if you are not thirsty. Avoid drinking liquids that contain excess quantity of sugar because these drinks can really cause you to lose more body fluid. Dr Narasimhan, a physician recommends that "People should drink plenty of fruit juices, coconut water, a liberal amount of water and water filled fruits like watermelon and musk melon. Anything to cool down the body and keep you hydrated.” Cutting down chilled drinks can save stomach cramps.
- Remain indoors: If possible it is better to stay indoors or in an air-conditioned place during the summer season. If you wish to go outdoors, go to public library or shopping mall, which can help your body stay cooler. Limit sun exposure and exercise in the morning or evening when it is not hot and humid.
- Protect your skin: In order to protect yourself against the risk of melanoma skin cancer (the deadliest form of skin cancer), always wear a sunscreen lotion with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more, 20 to 30 minutes before stepping out in the sun. Also don't forget to apply it to your ears and feet too. It is also advised to use a stole to cover your face.
- Protect your arms and legs: Protect your arms and legs by wearing lightweight, light-colored and loose clothing.
- Avoid street foods: Beware of street foods and eating spoilt food in summer, as the possibility of food spoilage is common. Avoid buying packaged raw vegetables and fruits as they tend to get spoilt due to the heat.