Summer’s in full swing! Whether it’s hiking deep into the backwoods, cruising the salty seas, or just lazing around the neighborhood in front of the grill with friends, this time of year spells “fun in the sun” like no other. But while spending more time outside can heal the soul, it can also pose risks to the body. Sometimes a summer day enjoyed improperly can lead to an unexpected trip to urgent care. Here are the top four reasons for urgent care visits during the summer months, and some preventative tips to help keep a visit out of your future.
Sunburn and Heat-Related Illness
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s probable that a good dose of vitamin D makes you feel great. And if you’re careful, it can make you look great too. If you’re not, however, you might find yourself in need of a nurse. Common summer injuries include sunburn, often considered an innocuous heat-related illness, which results in the all-too-familiar redness of skin (that may feel hot to the touch), pain, tenderness, itching, swelling, blistering, headache, fever, nausea, and fatigue, all of which can require medical attention if severe enough.
More concerning, however, is that overexposure to sunlight is considered to be the most common cause of a variety of skin cancers, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Luckily, the CDC also states that it is the most preventable cause. With that in mind, here are a few tips for enjoying the sun while saving your skin from burns:
- Always wear sunscreen – Preferably broad-spectrum (offering UVA and UVB protection) and at least 30 SPF. Apply it on your skin whenever you expect lots of sun.
- Avoid direct sun in the middle of the day – From about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the ultraviolet rays, which cause sunburn, are strongest.
- Wear protective clothing – Hats, long-sleeve shirts, pants, or UV-resistant wear are all ideal ways to avoid burns.
- Wear sunglasses that filter UV light – You’ll look cool too.
Here’s something else we can all agree on: mosquitoes are a total bother. Though for most victims insect bites just itchy and annoying, they can, in fact, spread illness. Other insects, like wasps, hornets, and horseflies can also pack painful stings, attack in large groups, and induce potentially severe allergic reactions. One insect of the non-flying variety that’s similarly pesky is the tick. Ticks are known to spread several diseases, Lyme being the most recognized. In short, while they may be small in size, insect bites can pose a not-so-small threat to our health. To prevent unwanted snacking on your skin this season, consider the following while romping under those August rays:
- Use insect repellent – That contains 20 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin and clothing. Always follow the instructions on the repellent and reapply as directed. If you are also wearing sunscreen, apply your sunscreen first, let it dry, and then apply the insect repellent.
- Wear appropriate clothing – If you know you’re going to be out at night or hiking in a densely-wooded area, dress to prevent bug bites. Cover exposed skin as much as possible by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, socks, and closed shoes instead of sandals. For additional protection, pull your socks up over your pants and tuck your shirt into your pants.
- Use bed netting – If you are sleeping out in the open (if the net doesn’t reach the floor, tuck it under the mattress for maximum protection)
- Pay attention to outbreaks – Check the CDC Travel Health Notices website and heed travel warnings and recommendations.
An ice-cold soft drink might sound like the best thing on a hot summer day, but none of those are likely to make your body as happy as a big glass of water. Water is essential. Because the body is made up of mostly water (around 60 percent) and the proper balance of water determines how well our internal systems function, hydration is a must for everyday physical and emotional well-being. As the temperature rises, so does the risk of dehydration, which is recognizable through the following symptoms: dizziness, headache, cramps, nausea, and irritation. In extreme cases, dehydration can lead to kidney stones, liver failure, long-term muscle and joint issues, and other common summer injuries. So, if you’re planning to spend the day under the sun, plan to keep yourself hydrated using these tips –
- Don’t wait until you’re thirsty – If you’re thirsty, you’re dehydrated. Most doctors recommend at least six to eight cups of fluid a day, and more if the temperatures are high.
- Consider a water substitute – If you simply can’t stand the thought of 8 cups of water a day, consider filling one of those cups with a juice, a smoothie, or an infusion (fruits and veggies such as cucumbers, watermelons, and lemons give water’s hydrating qualities an extra boost). Some experts even suggest chocolate milk as a great way to re-hydrate, especially after a workout.
- Don’t skip meals – You get much of your fluids through eating.
- Avoid alcohol – Especially in the sun, as the combination of heat and alcohol is a recipe for dehydration.
Outdoor and Sport-Related Injuries
Few summers would be complete without a game of pick-up basketball, a cannonball into a lake, throwing the pigskin around (on the trampoline), or perhaps a 10-mile slog up a mountainside. However you choose to spend your time outdoors, it’s important to make sure whatever you’re doing doesn’t result in common summer injuries. Sprained wrists, twisted ankles, pulled-backs cuts, scrapes, and broken bones are all common sights in urgent care clinics and emergency rooms between spring and summer. Here are a few safety tips for active summer activities:
- Stretch before you play – Warming up and stretching before engaging in physical activity can help prevent common strains and sprains
- Wear a helmet – If your activities for the day include biking, plan to wear a helmet. Wearing one can reduce the chance of a head injury by up to 88 percent.
- Drink water – While dehydration can occur in many settings, it’s especially common when exercising. Be sure to replenish lost fluids as they are sweat out.
- Jump into lakes, rivers, or the sea feet-first – Head injuries are all too commonly induced by not knowing what’s beneath the surface.
- Know your limits – If you’re not sure whether your body is physically prepared for the activity, it might be best to save it for another day.
Get Help from UrgentMED
If you or a loved one has been injured from a barbeque mishap, the medical professionals at UrgentMED stand ready to assist you. With 17 convenient walk-in urgent care clinics throughout southern California, we offer fast professional service without a long wait. We offer weekday, weeknight and weekend hours to serve you on your terms, for your convenience. Let us assist you with all your healthcare needs. Find the location nearest to you today.