People are rarely concerned with getting sick during the summer. We generally associate illness with cold weather when we’re more prone to colds and flu bugs. However, there are still plenty of ways we can get sick in the warm months. No one wants to have their summer fun spoiled by feeling under the weather, so be sure to avoid these five common causes of summertime illness.
The most common cause of sickness during the summer is the heat. Everyone knows to watch for sunburns, but many forget to drink water and take regular breaks when the weather gets hot. Some people, including older adults and children, are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke, dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash.
The CDC reports an average of 658 heat-related deaths each year. Here are some tips to reduce your risk of falling ill due to heat:
- Wear light clothing
- Pace yourself
- Schedule activities for cooler hours
- Avoid hot and heavy meals
- Drink more water than usual (and stay away from alcohol and caffeine)
- Keep tabs on weather updates for heat alerts
Image via Flickr by Grant MacDonald
Anyone with allergies can tell you how miserable they are. While some cases are mild and annoying, other people experience severe symptoms that interfere with their daily lives. Medication can help, but staying inside when pollen counts are high is the best way to reduce exposure and relieve symptoms.
That being said, be sure to properly maintain your HVAC unit during the summer. Faulty systems can allow allergens into the house, so hire a technician to service your HVAC and schedule a repair if needed.
With grill outs and picnics becoming more common in the summer, reports of food poisoning simultaneously increase. The heat promotes bacterial growth in our food, and microorganisms can grow in the digestive tract after infected food is eaten which can cause infections. Most aren’t severe, but the threat for others like salmonella and E. coli is very real.
Wash plant-based foods thoroughly, and make sure meats are properly cooked before being served. Also, remember to wash your hands frequently when handling food to prevent cross-contamination.
Lyme disease is a bacterial condition usually transmitted by a tick bite. It can cause anything from rashes to joint pain and flu-like ailments. Severe cases may develop more serious symptoms, and it can potentially be fatal.
There’s a simple way to avoid this illness: don’t get bitten by a tick. They thrive in heavily wooded areas and prefer exposed skin. So if you’re going for a hike, be sure to cover up, use DEET-based insect repellents, and remove any attached ticks as quickly as possible.
To escape the heat, many people jump into pools and lakes. However, even treated water can make us sick. The wet environment is a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to conditions like swimmer’s ear, eye infections, and gastrointestinal problems.
To avoid these issues, simply wearing earplugs and goggles is sufficient. Also, try not to swallow any water, and take a shower after your swim to wash away anything that may still linger.
Stay safe and healthy this summer by avoiding some of the most common causes of summertime illness. Your vacation will thank you.