From food poisoning to summer colds and heat rash, summer can seem extremely worrying for parents. However, presence of mind and smart thinking can help you and your children stay safe and enjoy the summer season without fear
Dr Rohan Fonseca
Summer for all is the best time of the year and children especially love it as they can indulge in all their favourite items like ice dollies, ice creams, splashing in the pool, chilled drinks, etc. But along with the fun and frolic comes the scary after effects which keep most parents on the edge.
With the onset of summer, diseases like tonsillitis, loose motions, gastroenteritis, vomiting, fainting spells (heat stroke), nose bleeds, ear infections, flu and colds, stomach upset, heat rash, sun burns and urine infections become common stance. What is the cause for this sudden rise in symptoms? Let’s just briefly get an idea about it.
Warm weather encourages bacteria to multiply, and who doesn’t enjoy barbeques and picnics during summer? Food that is prepared in advance and allowed to stand in the heat creates the perfect conditions for contamination and food poisoning.
Pre-prepared food should be handled hygienically, stored safely and kept cool if possible. It’s also better to choose foods that don’t spoil as easily or can be freshly prepared at your destination.
Most cases of food poisoning can be treated at home and do not require medical advice, as most people will feel better in a matter of days. It is however important to replace fluids lost through vomiting and diarrhoea.
If symptoms are severe, you may need to consult your doctor or be admitted to hospital for hydration.
We all like to spend time in the water during summer, but risk of bacterial infections and other water-borne illnesses as a result of taking part in recreational water activities.
Apart from natural bodies of water like rivers and lakes, pools and hot tubs can also be sources of gastrointestinal problems, skin, ear and eye infections, and respiratory, neurological and viral problems. The safest places to swim are pools that are regularly checked for their chlorine levels.
There is a kind of virus that produces cold-like symptoms, which tends to rear its ugly head during the summer months. It is called enterovirus and can cause more complicated symptoms than the typical winter cold.
The symptoms of a summer cold caused by enterovirus include fever, headache, and sore throat, and sometimes mouth sores or a rash. Treatment is basically aimed at relieving symptoms.
Heat rash is a red or pink rash usually found on areas of the body that are covered with clothing. It happens during hot humid conditions and is most common in children. Heat rash develops when sweat ducts become blocked and swell up, looking like dots or tiny pimples on the skin. It often causes discomfort and itching.
Heat rash usually heals on its own in a matter of days and doesn’t require medical attention. In some cases, the rash gets infected with symptoms like pain, swelling and pus. If this happens, be sure to contact your doctor.
Heat stroke or hyperthermia results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures. It can happen, for example, when children are left in hot cars during summer or playing out in the noon.
Heat stroke is a condition where the body’s cooling mechanisms are overcome by heat, resulting in a core heat of over 40°C. Heat stroke is preceded by signs of heat exhaustion like headaches, dizziness and weakness, and results in unconsciousness in the initial phase.
Hyperthermia is primarily treated by outside cooling of the body with the help of water, cold air or ice packs. In severe cases, consult your doctor immediately.
With summer comes the danger of sunburn, which can be extremely serious. Sunburn is caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun that damages your skin cells. The risk of damage depends on things like the time of day, the amount of time spent in the sun and if you use sun protection or not.
The best and simplest way to avoid sunburn is to stay out of the sun. Other ways to be sun-safe is to stay out of the midday sun, stay in the shade, use a good sunscreen and wear a hat and protective clothing.
All these conditions may seem alarming, but presence of mind and smart thinking can help you and your children stay away from these conditions.
Let’s have fun this summer without any fear. Take the above precautions and enjoy. And don’t forget if you have any symptoms see your family doctor immediately.
Precautions while enjoying summer
* Drink lots of water
* Avoid mid-day sun or protect yourself with appropriate clothing
* Wash your hands well before meals or when you come in from outdoor
* Eat freshly cooked food
* Store cooked food properly
* Wake up early morning and go for walk
* Apply sun cream, it will protect you from sunlight
* Include foods like curd and buttermilk, tender coconut, watermelon, cucumber, fresh lime water in your diet
* Choose indoor playtime at noon
* Wear sunscreen when going out during the day