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As the Scottish weather is notoriously unpredictable, it’s no surprise that any time we get a particularly good spell of summer sunshine, we all want to head outdoors and make the most of it!
And there’s a lot to be said for doing just that. Enjoying the sun has many proven health benefits – from boosting mental health to increasing essential vitamin D levels. But as the age-old adage goes, ‘everything in moderation’.
Whilst we don’t want to put a dampener on your fun in the sun, it is important to be aware of certain risks. That’s why the medical professionals at Edinburgh’s YourGP have put together this useful checklist of summer health risk factors…
The summer heat causes us to sweat to stay cool. However, this means our bodies are constantly losing fluids throughout the day which can lead to dehydration if this fluid is not replaced sufficiently. Children and older people are more susceptible to dehydration, the symptoms of which include:
Mild dehydration can be treated at home safely by increasing your fluid intake. Oral rehydration sachets, available at your local pharmacy, can also help to replace lost sugars, salt, and minerals.
Working, playing, or simply just relaxing in the heat can often leave you feeling a little more tired than usual. Sometimes, all that is needed is a siesta to recharge the batteries. Heat exhaustion, however, is more serious. Symptoms include:
The key thing is to cool down before the symptoms progress any further. Do this by moving to a shady area, or indoors. Drink plenty of water and lie down with your feet slightly elevated. It also helps to spritz yourself with cold water or to hold an ice pack on your skin.
Heat stroke can result from prolonged exposure to high temperatures, causing the body to overheat, and it is extremely serious. Symptoms include:
If you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke, phone 999 immediately. If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications such as damage the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles, and can even lead to death.
Too much exposure to the sun’s UV light can cause sunburn, the symptoms of which include:
To treat, move indoors and cool the affected area with a cold, wet towel. Apply after sun, drink plenty of fluids, and keep the skin fully covered when out in the sun until the area has healed completely.
Remember, prolonged sun exposure and repeat episodes of sunburn can cause irreversible damage to the skin and can lead to skin cancer.
Hay fever is an allergy caused by pollen which causes the mucous membranes of the eyes and nose to become inflamed. Typical symptoms include:
Unfortunately, there is no proven cure for this summer health issue at present, but there are various things you can do to relieve your symptoms, including showering and changing your clothes after you have been outside to wash off any pollen. You can try to keep your windows shut as much as possible, and vacuum regularly. Putting Vaseline around the nostrils can also help trap pollen before it enters the system.
Wasp and bee stings
Nothing beats a summer picnic in the sunshine, but sadly those traditional sweet treats often attract wasps and bees. If stung, the symptoms can include:
To treat, remove the sting if it is still in the skin, wash the affected area with soap and water, then apply a cold compress. It is important to avoid scratching the area to reduce the risk of infection.
If symptoms worsen, it could be an indication of an anaphylactic reaction, in which case call 999 immediately. Symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction include:
Healthcare, right when you need it
The medical professionals at YourGP are available to discuss any summer health concerns you may have. Just email our reception team at email@example.com or call us on 0131 225 5656 to book an appointment and we will be happy to assist with any issues to ensure you can make the most of this summer.
I’d like to thank everyone for their friendly professional attitudes and service. It made what was an anxious time for me much easier to cope with