Top 5 Common Ailments of Summer and How to Treat Them

1. Dealing with those buggers

Warmer weather not only brings longer days and beautiful sunsets, but also a plethora of insects, such as mosquitoes, flies and biting midges which love the muggy weather. Most reactions from insect bites cause local pain, itch, and redness, and subside without any complications. However, they could also lead to more severe symptoms, allergic reactions and the possibility of disease transmission.  Typical treatment for local reactions consists of washing the area with soap and water, cooling the area with an ice or cold pack to reduce swelling, and anti-itch remedies such as calamine and oral antihistamines.  More severe reactions to insect bites are uncommon but do occur. Anaphylactic reactions should be treated promptly with epinephrine, and individuals should be referred to an allergist to identify triggers and perform confirmatory testing where necessary. 

2. Dealing with a sweaty mess

Heat rash is caused by blockage or inflammation of the sweat ducts. Anything that causes sweating can lead to heat rash, including hot and humid environments, strenuous physical activity, fever, occlusion of the skin, medications, and bacteria. Typical treatment of heat rash includes moving to a cooler environment, wearing breathable clothing, fever medication, removal of occlusive bandages, and gentle skin exfoliation to remove debris which could be occluding the sweat ducts.

3. Dealing with unfriendly UV exposure

Sunburn is usually a self-limiting condition, which resolves in 3 to 7 days. Typical treatment of mild to moderate sunburn consists of cool compresses or soaks, calamine lotion, aloe vera, and pain relievers such as ibuprofen. In severe cases where blisters and systemic symptoms are present (e.g. fever, headache, vomiting), hospitalization may be required. Prevention is key: use broad spectrum sunscreens with SPF 30 or higher, avoid peak hours of sunlight intensity (10am to 4pm), wear protective clothing, and determine your genetic susceptibility to skin cancers. 

4. Dealing with overheating

Heat stroke can occur when core body temperature exceeds 40 degrees Celsius (or 104 degrees Fahrenheit) and exhibits central nervous system dysfunction. Heat stroke can affect individuals who engage in heavy exercise under extreme heat and humid conditions. It can also affect individuals who are not exerting themselves, but have underlying medication conditions that impair their body’s ability to regulate its core temperature, such as anhidrosis (the inability to sweat normally), obesity, medication use, and extremes of age. Both types of heat stroke are serious and require hospitalization and immediate medical attention.

5. Dealing with muscle cramps

In our attempts to enjoy the warmer weather by increasing physical activity, new exercise regimens could lead to muscle cramps. If this happens, it’s important to relax, stretch and massage the involved muscle to reduce discomfort. It is also imperative to keep hydrated with either a sports drink or other source of salt. Factors that could increase the chance of muscle cramps include heavy sweating, dehydration, pre-exercise fatigue, and insufficient sodium intake prior to and during activity.

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