Summer is time for swimming, ice cream and road trips. It’s also the season for some common injuries and illnesses, likely resulting in a trip to your local urgent care clinic. Check out the list below to learn more about these summer-related health problems:
1. Sports Injuries
When activity levels increase, so does the chance of sports injuries. Whether your sport of choice is volleyball, swimming, golf or running through sprinklers, minor injuries can occur at any time. The most common sports injuries include:
• Sprained ankles
• Pulled groins and hamstrings
• Shin splints
• Knee injuries
• Tennis elbow
• Back injuries
Ankle sprains, especially, are one of the most common injuries in the summer. It is estimated that 25,000 Americans experience an ankle sprain every day.
Warming up before participating in sports and knowing when to rest can minimize the risk of injuries associated with overuse. In the event one of these injuries occurs, ice and rest can reduce swelling and help the body repair itself. For more serious injuries, visit your local walk-in urgent care center to be evaluated by a medical provider.
2. Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
Both heat exhaustion and heat stroke are caused by the body overheating due to exposure to extreme temperatures. While both heat exhaustion and heat stroke require fast attention, heat stroke can be fatal and requires immediate medical care. The symptoms of each illness include nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache and fainting, but heat stroke can also cause confusion, irregular heartbeats, rapid body temperature increases and seizures.
Luckily, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be prevented by remaining hydrated, monitoring exposure to the heat and sun and taking time to cool off. Heat exhaustion can be treated by moving into a cool area, cooling the body with wet cloths and loosening clothing. Keep in mind that heat stroke can be life-threatening and immediate medical help is necessary with these symptoms.
Sunburn is the result of too much sunlight or sunlamp exposure. A sunburn can cause red, hot skin that can be sensitive, swollen and painful. Severe cases of sunburn may also cause blisters and heat rash. Sunburns can be prevented by using sunscreen, wearing sun protective clothing and monitoring the amount of time the skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays.
Common treatments of sunburn include cooling the skin with a cool bath or shower, applying moisturizing lotions or gels, staying hydrated and avoiding additional sun exposure until the skin has healed. Severe sunburn can be treated with over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream. If the skin becomes infected, or sunburn is accompanied by any symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, medical attention may be needed.
Hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis, can be triggered by several environmental conditions. Since many of these outdoor allergens reach peak levels during the spring, summer and fall, hay fever is often viewed as a summer ailment. Symptoms of hay fever include runny nose; itchy, swollen and red eyes; sneezing and coughing.
The best way to reduce hay fever is by limiting exposure to allergens and taking over-the-counter allergy medications, like antihistamines, decongestants and nasal sprays. Medical help may be necessary if over-the-counter drugs fail to reduce symptoms, or if another condition, such as asthma, is aggravated by the allergy symptoms.
5. Tick-Borne Illnesses
Tick bites are most common during the spring and summer in grassy, leafy, wooded areas. Not all tick bites result in tick-borne illness, however, tick-borne illnesses have been on the rise in recent years and can be very serious. Harmless tick bites mostly produce no symptoms, but some ticks carry diseases that are passed on when they bite. Some potential symptoms of a dangerous tick bite include a red spot or rash near the bite site, nausea and headaches, fever and chills, and muscle and joint pain.
To prevent tick bites, wear insect repellent, inspect skin for ticks when coming in from outdoors, and keep ticks from attaching to household pets by using tick collars, medications or sprays. You can go to your nearest urgent care to remove the tick, or you can remove it at home. Use tweezers to grasp the tick and pull upward with even pressure. If the head or mouthparts break off and remain in the skin, use the tweezers to dig it out.
The most common tick bites in Washington can cause Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, so it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after being bitten, even if you don’t have symptoms.
If you suffer from one of these common summer illnesses or injuries, visit your neighborhood Immediate Clinic to be seen by a medical provider.