Six common summer illnesses and how to avoid them
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Sunburn

During summer, people often get sunburn because of too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, particularly from direct sunlight. Keep in mind that you can still get sunburn on cloudy days because the UV light penetrates clouds. The UV rays can also reflect on water, sand, and other surfaces which can cause your skin to burn.
 

Symptoms of Sunburn

Common symptoms of sunburn:

 

  • Pinkness/redness of the skin

  • Swelling

  • Pain and tenderness

  • Small blisters

  • Itchiness and peeling of the skin after the burn

Severe sunburn may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Headache

  • Fever

  • Nausea and fatigue

  • Confusion

Prevention tips

  • Apply sunscreen and lip balm 15 to 30 minutes before going out. Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater with broad-spectrum protection against ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Use water-resistant sunscreen for swimming.

  • Avoid staying under the sun between 10 am and 4 pm. It’s best to limit your activities during these hours when the sun’s rays are at their strongest.

  • Cover up exposed areas when spending time outdoors. Choose clothing that covers your arms and legs and wear a wide-brimmed hat. Go for swimwear with ultraviolet protection.

  • Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses. If possible choose sunglasses that feature UVA and UVB protection.
     

Remedies

 

  • Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever can help relieve the pain and tenderness.

  • Drink a lot of water to prevent dehydration.

  • You can place a clean and damp towel on the affected area. A cool bath with added baking soda can also help.

  • Apply aloe vera lotion or gel to soothe the skin.

  • Consult your doctor if you have severe sunburns.

Sore Eyes

The heat and irritants in the air during summer make the eyes prone to allergic reactions. Sore eyes or conjunctivitis is often short-lived but it can be extremely uncomfortable.
 

Symptoms of sore eyes

  • Eye redness

  • Eye discharge

  • Watery eyes

  • Crusting around the eye and eyelid

  • Pricking sensation

Prevention tips

  • Always stay hydrated.

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.

  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.

  • Refrain from sharing cosmetics, towels, and blankets.

  • Get enough sleep for at least six to eight hours.

  • If you wear contact lenses, it’s best to stop wearing them until symptoms subside. Your doctor might recommend getting rid of disposable contact lenses that you used. Make sure that you disinfect hard lenses before using them again.

Remedies

  • Cold compress - Put a cold small towel over your closed eyes for five minutes (two to three times a day) to relieve the pain and swelling.

  • Your doctor might recommend using artificial tears.

Measles

Measles (rubeola) is a type of infection caused by a virus. It’s highly contagious and can lead to complications. It can be very dangerous and even fatal to small children.
 

Symptoms of measles

  • High fever

  • Sore throat

  • Runny nose

  • Red, watery eyes

  • 2-3 days after initial symptoms appear:

  • 2-3 days after initial symptoms appear: rash (appear from the head to the rest of the body

Prevention tips

  • This viral infection can be prevented through vaccination.

  • Measles is highly contagious four days before and four days after the rash breakout. Infected individuals should refrain from physically interacting with other people

Remedies

  • Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be taken to relieve the fever.

  • The doctor may prescribe antibiotics if a bacterial infection (ear infection or pneumonia) develops while the individual has measles.

  • Get plenty of rest and drink a lot of water.

Prevention tips

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two doses of the chickenpox vaccine (varicella vaccine) for children, adolescents, and adults.

  • The first dose may be given between ages 12 and 15 months and the second dose from ages 4 to 6.

  • Infected individuals should avoid going to public areas to prevent the infection from spreading.

Remedies

  • It is recommended to trim/keep fingernails short and minimize scratching to prevent skin infections.

  • Applying calamine lotion or taking a cool bath with added baking soda can help reduce the itching.

  • The CDC discourages the use of aspirin or products with aspirin to relieve fever from chickenpox because it has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a severe disease affecting the liver and brain.

  • If you have been exposed to measles, consult a doctor if you’re not vaccinated, pregnant, or have a weakened immune system.

Chickenpox

Chickenpox is a viral infection that usually affects children but may also affect adults. It can be transmitted through direct contact with the rash/blisters or inhalation of air droplets.
 

Symptoms of Chickenpox

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Red, watery eyes

  • Rashes that develop into blisters

Prevention tips

  • Mumps can be prevented by being vaccinated with measles-mumps-rubella (MMR). The vaccination is recommended before a child enters school.

  • Isolation, especially up to five days after the onset of symptoms, is important to prevent the spreading of the disease.

Remedies

  • Mumps has no specific treatment. Most children and adults have a full recovery within a few weeks.

  • Drink plenty of fluids.

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers may be taken to ease symptoms.

  • A warm or cold compress can help lessen the pain of the swollen glands.

Mumps is a viral infection that can lead to swelling of the salivary glands near the ears.
 

Symptoms of Mumps

  • Puffy Cheeks

  • Tender, Swollen jaw

  • Pain while swallowing or chewing

  • Fever

  • Muscle aches

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Loss of appetite

Mumps
Food poisoning

During the hot months of March to May, the chances of food poisoning increase because bacteria multiply faster in warmer conditions. When people are busy with picnics and summer outings, safe food handling may sometimes be taken for granted. Food poisoning may occur when infectious organisms (e.g. bacteria, viruses, and parasites) contaminate food.
 

Symptoms of food poisoning

  • Vomiting

  • Nausea

  • Abdominal pain and cramps

  • Diarrhea

  • Fever

Prevention tips

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling food.

  • Wash raw fruits and vegetables before consumption.

  • Sanitize surfaces before and after handling food.

  • Prevent cross-contamination of food by keeping raw items away from ready-to-eat food.

  • Ensure that your food is cooked properly at a safe temperature.

  • Keep perishable food refrigerated.

  • Always check food expiry dates before consumption.

Remedies

  • Treatment may depend on the severity of the food poisoning symptoms.

  • Replacement of lost fluids is important to prevent dehydration.

  • Persistent vomiting and/or diarrhea may need hospitalization.

  • Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if food poisoning is caused by bacteria.

  • Your doctor may recommend probiotics.

  • Rest is vital to help you regain your strength.

Stay healthy this summer and all-year round

Summer is the perfect time to relax and unwind with family and friends. Don’t let these common summer illnesses ruin your vacation and bonding time with loved ones. Keep these preventive tips in mind to protect yourself and the people dear to you. MedicarePlus is your partner in safeguarding your health not just this summer but all-year round.