MAYWOOD, IL (July 2, 2015) - Summer celebrations can be the happiest memories of the year, but they also can be the most terrifying when health injuries occur. Many summer injuries are preventable with some common sense and preparation. Here are top health tips from experts at Loyola University Health System to keep the fun in summer.
- Eat lighter. “Smaller quantities of food not only make you feel less bloated and tired but also keep your body temperature cooler,” says Kim Sasso, RD, Loyola dietitian. “Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals to boost health and they also contain water, which can help keep you hydrated.”
- Beat the heat. “The hot temperatures and extra activity mean you need to drink more water to stay hydrated and you also need to stay cool with air conditioning. Over the past three decades, heat-related fatalities have nearly quadrupled. Make sure all ages have access to water bottles and take breaks when playing sports or exercising in the heat,” says Mark Cichon, DO, chair, Loyola emergency department.
- Isolate the grill. “Draw a wide circle around the barbecue grill with spray paint before you begin cooking. Tell all children to stay outside the circle to protect them from injury,” says Art Sanford, MD, Loyola burn department. “Too many times kids chase a ball, ride their bike or trike, trip and fall or other activities that bring them into contact with a hot grill to painful and lasting consequence. You may even want to practice with kids in advance so they get in the habit of keeping away from the grill.”
- Wear sunscreen. “Ultra violet rays can cause damage in just 15 minutes. Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum 15 SPF to best prevent sun damage,” offers Christina Hantsch, MD, Loyola toxicologist. “Products with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are good choices, especially for those with sensitive skin, allergies, or other reasons to avoid PABA and benzophenones. Many daily lotions and moisturizers now meet these criteria and can be part of your daily routine. Rather than combination sun screen and DEET insect repellant products, use separate products based on your specific outdoor time and activity.”
- Use bug spray. “The bugs we worry the most about are mosquitoes and ticks,” says Jennifer Layden, MD, Loyola infectious disease. “Mosquitoes are known to cause West Nile virus, and ticks transmit Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain fever. Choose a spray with 20 to 30 percent DEET, so it lasts longer, especially during dusk to dawn when insects are more abundant.”
- Take your allergy medicine. “Don’t wait until you are sneezing to take your allergy medication, if you have a sensitive respiratory system. Continue to take allergy medicine when you don’t have symptoms,” says Joseph Leija, MD, retired allergist who conducts the Gottlieb Allergy Count, the official count for the Midwest.
- Protect your vision. “All ages, from toddlers to senior citizens should wear sunglasses when it is bright outside, not only in summer but throughout the year. Sunglasses protect the eye, and also the delicate skin around the eye from harmful rays,” says James McDonnell, MD, Loyola ophthalmologist. “Choose sunglasses that offer UVA/UVB protection for best effectiveness.”
The top tip that many physicians caution against is the overindulgence of alcohol. “Alcohol severely impairs judgment and when you are grilling, boating, swimming and many other summer activities, you really need to be alert for safety, especially when the supervision of children is required,” says Dr. Cichon. “More than half of deaths attributed to alcohol are from injury.”