Doctor’s Summer Tips for Staying Healthy

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Summertime is great for outdoor activities and events. Taking simple precautions can help to avoid health or safety problems from ruining summer fun. Rebecca McIlroy, DO, with Central Delaware Family Medicine, offers tips for keeping your family safe this summer.

To beat the heat, Dr. McIlroy recommends avoiding peak sun hours between 11a.m. to 2 p.m. Try to plan outside events in the early mornings or late afternoons. Hydrate well in advance of going outside. “If you are thirsty, you are already mildly dehydrated,” she said. “Drink eight to sixteen ounces of water or a sports drink with electrolytes each hour that you are active outside. Thirst, muscle cramping, nausea, and headache are the first signs of dehydration.” Dr. McIlroy said that people should be aware of more serious symptoms of heat related illness and seek medical attention for anyone who is overheated, red without sweat, dizzy, vomiting, and has a rapid pulse.

Always pack sunscreen when planning a day outdoors. Dr. McIlroy recommends SPF15 or higher, and suggests it be reapplied every two hours. Sunscreen along with a protective hat and shades is critical in preventing sunburn or sun poisoning. “Sunburn is painful and can lead to blistering and increased risk of skin cancer,” Dr. McIlroy said. “Sun poisoning is a more severe case of sun burn; it causes fever and chills, nausea, headache, confusion, and dehydration. Seek medical attention if experiencing the latter symptoms.”

Dr. McIlroy recommends applying insect repellant before going outside when appropriate to exposed areas and clothing only. “There are varying concentrations of insect repellent that are safe for children over two months old,” explained Dr. McIlroy. “Read labels carefully. Do not use combination insect repellent/sunscreen because the repellant does not need to be applied as often as the sunscreen.” She recommends parents avoid the child’s hands, mouth and eyes when applying insect repellent.

If your child is stung by a bee or wasp, remove the stinger immediately, clean the site and watch for signs of a more severe allergic reaction. “Benadryl and an ice pack can be used to reduce pain, localized swelling and itching,” Dr. McIlroy said. “If they have shortness of breath, hives or throat swelling; those are signs of anaphylaxis and one should seek medical attention and administer an Epi Pen if available.”

Camping is a popular summer activity, but you should be mindful of ticks. Lyme disease is an infection transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. Dr. McIlroy suggests checking the entire body for ticks after being outside. If the tick is removed within 24-36 hours, the risk of Lyme disease is very minimal. If you become ill after a tick bite, see a health care provider for additional testing.

Safety precautions are also important especially when visiting the pool or beach this summer. Dr. McIlroy says any child who cannot swim or is under the age of five, should never be more than an arm’s length away from the parent. “Close supervision free of distraction is key to preventing drowning,” she said. “Only go in the ocean when a lifeguard is on duty and make sure your child is using approved floatation devices.”

Practicing these tips can help your family have a worry-free summer. For additional safety measures and tips visit www.cdc.gov or www.aap.org.

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