Prevention of Summer Health Complications

We often forget the advice we are given

Each year, we are repeatedly presented with tips on how to prepare for winter, how to avoid the flu, how to prepare for the onset of spring or how to fight spring fatigue. Despite this, we often forget the advice we are given and are then left wondering how we could have forgotten about it. Doctors can only confirm that patients often suffer from issues they could often have easily prevented by following simple recommendations. The summer is no exception.

Summer diseases

Most of us remain healthy throughout the summer. Despite there being fewer colds and bacterial infections, some complications are actually more prevalent. Bacterial tonsillitis (streptococcal) is actually relatively common in the summer where the mucosa is warm and is then subjected to cold environments (cold drinks/ice-cream). Herpangina in particular is most common in the summer. Some infections and diseases correlate directly with the summer lifestyle. Inflammation of the middle and external ear as well as the inflammation of the conjunctiva are associated with bathing in dirty water while intestinal infections are caused by salmonella and other bacteria which thrive in warm weather. Avoiding these risks by for example not eating improperly prepared foods and snacks from questionable sources (undercooked chicken and eggs, ice-cream) is the key.

Air conditioning is a common culprit in catching a cold during the summer. The difference between temperature on the inside and outside should not exceed 5-7 degrees Celsius. For children, the difference should be even lower than that. Not many actually follow these recommendations however. While the outside temperature may be 35 degrees Celsius, very few set the air-conditioning to say 30 degrees Celsius. In fact most of us would set it to be 20-25 degrees Celsius instead. As a result, we often end up suffering from colds, headaches and various spinal issues. Car environments present a similar problem, often responsible for causing sunstrokes, dehydration or colds. Protecting children in particular is essential and we should always ensure a lower temperature difference, good ventilation and sufficient liquid intake.

Skin problems are also very common in the summer. Some complications like solar urticaria (SU) or exanthema can be prevented by careful preparation for the sun. You should not subject your skin to direct sun especially if you are not using any UVA and UVB protection. Exposure should be gradual in nature. Exanthema patients can help limit possible problems by consuming beta-carotene through dietary supplements. Some herbs as well as drugs are known to make the skin more sensitive to the sun. St. John’s wort for example is well known for its tranquilizing effect but photosensitization side-effects and consuming it may cause unnecessary rashes. Patients using antibiotics should also make sure that they do not subject themselves to direct sunlight. The results, if these recommendations are ignored, are often associated with red, itchy and irritated skin that can form blisters. All this can then negatively affect our vacation experience.

Virtually all of us have experienced insect bites during the summer. Biting insects, despite the rather moderate temperature zone, are plentiful here. Ticks for example are known to be carriers of Lyme disease as well as other infections. The occurrence rates of tick-borne encephalitis here in the Czech Republic are among the highest in Europe. In other countries including the UK, The Netherlands, USA, Australia and Japan, this disease is virtually non-existent. Visitors may then be unpleasantly surprised that they became infected with a disease they would usually associate with exotic locations instead. Examination of the skin, repellents, immediate removal of attached ticks and vaccination is important in preventing similar diseases from occurring.

Author: MUDr. Silvie Knoppová, Paediatrics

Canadian Medical Care‎ Prague

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