Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it,” said American writer Russell Baker. There are things to like about summer: the bright, long days, the holidays, the frozen desserts etc, but in most parts of our country, summer is seldom kind because of the soaring mercury levels and brings with it a whole host of health problems. Here are a few things you should be aware of, to protect yourself and enjoy the season.
Sunstroke is a condition in which the body experiences an increase in its temperature and is unable to regulate heat. Often life-threatening, sunstroke occurs mainly due to overexposure to a high temperature and strenuous physical activity in warm conditions leading to severe dehydration. Symptoms of sunstroke may include dizziness, rapid pulse rate, high fever, nausea and convulsion.
Sunstroke should be treated as a medical emergency especially in cases of young children and elderly people. The condition can be treated by lowering the body temperature with ice packs, electrolyte fluids and IV fluids. To prevent sunstroke, keep the body well hydrated, avoid strenuous physical activity and minimize exposure to the sun during peak hours. Maintaining an overall good health will help in the prevention of sunstroke.
The unrelenting Indian summer heat can make one prone to viral infections, various food-borne and waterborne diseases, chicken pox and flu. The best way to fight and prevent summer infections is to reduce exposure to extreme heat, keep hydrated, wash hands frequently and keep an eye on the overall hygiene. Summer being the vacation season in India, it opens up the chances of food-borne infections from out of home eating. Particular care should be taken to avoid foods from poor storage facilities, non-hygienic conditions, poor sanitation and bad disposal management situations.
Along with contributing to a sunstroke, dehydration in itself can a pose a serious health threat during summer. Roaming around outdoors in hot sun lead to rapid decline of fluid levels in human body through breathing or perspiration resulting in dehydration. Children and elderly people can get easily dehydrated, as their body is unable to quickly adjust with temperature changes.
Drink plenty of water, fresh lime or coconut water to maintain body fluid level. Don’t wait till you feel thirsty to have a glass of clean water. Limit alcohol consumption as it can cause more body fluid loss. Offer water and fruit juices to your child. Sportspersons should take frequent water breaks to keep dehydration at bay.
The scorching heat of summer takes a toll on your skin and brings issues of dry skin, tanning, acne, skin rashes and red skin. UV rays from the sun harm the skin and may lead to breakdown and premature aging. Prickly heat and bad smelling perspiration can compound these problems. It is important to remember that most of these problems are associated with sun and dust exposure, lack of good skin care regime and excessive air conditioning.
To keep summer skin issues at bay, keep your skin moisturized and hydrated with plenty of water intake. Avoid excessive sun exposure if possible and use a sun screen lotion irrespective of the time you are going out to prevent skin tanning and harmful UV rays. It is best to opt for a sunscreen with SPF 30 or above for Indian conditions. Wearing comfortable clothes and covering up body parts with hats and long-sleeved clothes also helps in keeping your skin protected during summer.
As summer is a time for outing and camping for children, cases of food poisonings are at its verge. Summer activities lead to eating outside food and drinking contaminated water or road side juices. Mostly all these things are prepared under unhygienic kitchen conditions. Also high temperature favours fastest growth of bacteria in food stuff and can result in food poisoning.
Always carry water bottle from home. In case of eating or drinking outside, make sure the vendor maintains cleanliness at each and every step of food preparation and serving. Avoid overeating during summer to remain active especially at wedding and parties.
1. Chicken pox
Ever wonder where this condition got its name? Well, that’s because the boils resembled the peck marks of a chicken, and the disease was christened ‘chicken pox’. Seen right at the onset of summers, chicken pox manifests as itchy red rash like spots or boils all over the body, usually in children. Spread by air-borne particles, the disease spreads when an already infected person sneezes or coughs. Another mode of transmission is if a caregiver touches the blisters or the fluid oozing out of it.
Some of the first symptoms are fever, headache and sore throat. After about a day or two a rash like blister appears in a localized part of the body which will later spread to the entire body. The boils or blisters burst after about 2 days and once they crust over, the patient can resume their daily activities. Until then, it is important that the he/ she is kept in complete isolation and given a good amount of rest. It takes about 10 days for the body to recover from the illness. On the bright side, once you suffer from chicken pox you will not contract the disease again due to the natural immunity the first attack confers on you.
There is a vaccine available to protect yourself against this virus. Even so, some simple precautions like washing your hands thoroughly after visiting a common or crowded place and to isolate a person suffering from the disease to prevent its spread can be exercised.
Also called rubeola or morbilli, it is a common condition seen in the summers.
Its initial symptoms are high fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and red eyes. These symptoms later progress to what’s called a measles rash (rashes that look like small red spots), fever, cough, runny nose and tiny white spots within the mouth. The measles rashes usually appear 3-5 days after the initial symptoms and start around the hairline and face in most cases.
The MMR vaccine (Measels, Mumps and Rubella) usually given to all children is highly efficient in preventing the disease from occurring.
Also called Hepatitis A, it is a water-borne disease caused mainly by contaminated water supplies and food cooked in unclean places.
The initial symptoms of jaundice include yellow discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes and the whites of the eyes, light-colored stools, dark-colored urine and itching of the skin.
A vaccine is available, but to protect yourself better, you should avoid eating food made in unhygienic places. Drink only filtered or double boiled water and coconut water
Commonly known as typhoid fever, it is a water borne disease passed on through the oro-feacal route.
Its common symptoms include high fever, fatigue, weakness, pain in the abdomen, headache, loss of appetite, and sometimes a rash. Once treated a person can still carry the bacteria but not suffer from the disease. These people are called ‘carriers’ and often are the cause for further spread of the virus.
There are two types of vaccines available to protect you against typhoid. One is a vaccine that uses the killed bacteria, and is injected into a person. The second is the attenuated or weakened bacterium that is administered in the form of medicine or a pill.
Is an extremely contagious viral disease. It is known to occur mainly in children during peak summer.
One of the most common symptoms is the swelling up of the person’s salivary glands at the base of the neck. It typically starts with a few days of fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite, and is followed by swelling of salivary glands.
The MMR vaccine (Measels, Mumps and rubella) can help protect you from contracting the disease.