Being aware of the common health problems associated with summer means you can take precautions to avoid them
For most people the summer is a chance to get outdoors with friends and family and enjoy the good weather.
But the hot sun and high temperatures can also bring a number of health risks. Bedfordshire and Luton Clinical Commissioning Groups are offering some simple advice to help people stay healthy over the summer months.
The main seasonal health concerns associated with summer are:
- Respiratory problems
If your skin is unprotected it can quickly burn, causing lasting damage and increase your chances of getting skin cancer. Frequently apply a high factor sunscreen (at least factor 30) to protect against the sun’s rays. Always use plenty of sunscreen and don’t forget the back of your neck and the backs of your hands, particularly if you work outside.
Try to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day between 11am and 3pm. If you do feel your skin burning at any time, cover up and move into the shade.
Dehydration can lead to a range of health problems but is easily avoided. During the hot weather our bodies lose more fluid than usual, so it’s important to drink plenty of water and fruit juices to stay hydrated.
Keep an eye on children, the elderly and people with long-term health conditions such as diabetes, as they can be more at risk from dehydration. Also remember, drinking too much alcohol will actually cause dehydration not prevent it.
For hayfever sufferers the summer can be a nightmare as it can mean months of sneezing, a constantly runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. As the pollen count rises always make sure you have a good supply of your anti-histamine medication. Other measures to help reduce hayfever symptoms include:
- Keep windows shut when you are indoors
- Apply a little Vaseline under your nose to trap pollen
- Vacuum your home regularly and dust with a damp cloth
- Wear wraparound sunglasses when you’re outside to prevent the pollen irritating your eyes
Your local pharmacist can offer advice on coping with hayfever and the range of over-the-counter antihistamine medicines available.
Breathe more easily
In hot weather our bodies demand more oxygen as we use up energy to try to stay cool. This, combined with soaring temperatures, high humidity and poor air quality, can trigger a shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing in people with asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or other lung conditions.
There are some simple tips that will help you stay cool and breathe more easily:
- Avoid physical overexertion
- Keep your home cool by closing curtains or blinds during the hottest part of the day and use the coolest rooms
- Use a fan to stay cool and provide a gentle breeze
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay well hydrated
- Use your inhaler as prescribed by your health professional
Enjoy the summer, but if you or a family member feel unwell your local pharmacist can help or alternatively dial NHS111.
For more information on staying well during the summer, visit www.nhs.uk.