Apply aloe gel to sunburns. *File photo
Apply aloe gel to sunburns. *File photo

We like to think of summer as the season of fun. A lot of our time is spent at the beach, on boats, at family barbecues, at the park for picnics and even overseas for vacation. 

And while summer certainly is a fun season, it has its challenges in terms of health issues. Each season, we have to best learn how to deal with our health. Some of these health issues include food poisoning, mosquito bites, sun burn, heat strokes and asthma attacks. While some can be prevented, others are inevitable, so knowing how to deal with them when they arise is key.  Here, I’ve listed a few common summer health issues and the best ways to deal with them. 

Asthma attacks — Summer can be a more risky time for those with asthma. While we don’t have much air pollution in Bermuda, high pollen levels and increased mould growth due to high humidity can cause a spike in asthma attacks.

If you are prone to asthma attacks, continue taking your daily preventer medications throughout the summer and keep a close eye on pollen and air pollution levels.

• Food poisoning — Food- borne illnesses are two times more common during the summer months than during other parts of the year because the bacteria that cause food poisoning grow fastest in hot and humid weather. Symptoms include fever, chills, abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloody stools, nausea, vomiting and dizziness, hours or days after exposure. Prevent food poisoning by keeping perishable foods refrigerated or in a cooler with ice and don’t eat food left out for more than two hours. Treat symptoms by keeping well hydrated. Drink balanced rehydrating solutions like Dioralyte and Pedialyte. You can also take a medicine that treats nausea and diarrhea if symptoms are severe.

• Heat Stroke — Symptoms of heat stroke include an extremely high body temperature; red, hot, dry skin, a rapid pulse, a throbbing headache, nausea, dizziness, confusion and unconsciousness. The body is usually able to regulate temperature via sweating or blood-flow changes to the skin, but in extreme heat and high humidity, the body may not be able to dissipate heat and the body temperature rises. Avoid overheating by staying in the shade and drinking plenty of water. Fluids, rest and pain relievers/fever reducers will treat symptoms of heat stroke, but if symptoms are severe, seek medical attention.

Bug bites — The itching, swelling and pain of insect bites are due to the venom and other substances insects leave behind. Sometimes there is a delayed reaction with additional symptoms such as hives, painful joints, fever and swollen glands. Most people react mildly and bites can be treated by washing the area with soap and water, applying topical cream for the itching and a cold pack for the swelling. You can also take a pain reliever such as acetaminophen if needed and take an antihistamine to quell the reaction. 

• Sun burn — Avoid getting burned by staying in the shade, especially during peak hours, covering up, wearing a wide-brim hat and, of course, applying sunscreen liberally and regularly.  If you’ve been sunburned, take a cool shower or bath and apply cool compresses to affected areas several times daily. Apply aloe gel, but avoid lotions that keep heat in the skin.

Stephanie Simons
is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire.