Summer brings an opportunity to relax, enjoy lots of leisure time and get outdoors but there are some health risks such as sunburn and dehydration amongst other things, which can be avoided by taking simple steps. Our tips for a happy and healthy summer should help you to make it an enjoyable one.
It’s incredibly important to stay hydrated all year round, but when the weather is warmer,especially if you are outside in the sunshine, it is even more crucial to replenish the fluids that are lost when the body sweats. It’s best to avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks because they can cause more dehydration by increasing the body’s fluid output making it more difficult to stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to complications such as kidney damage, kidney failure and shock. The signs of dehydration to look out for include:
Try to stay cool to avoid heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion can progress and become serious. The symptoms of heat exhaustion could include:
To reduce the risk of heat exhaustion wear light clothing, avoid direct sunlight especially when the sun is at the highest point in the sky, use a fan or air conditioning, drink plenty of water and avoid heavy meals.
Whilst the sun is an excellent source of Vitamin D and we all need a small amount of sun exposure everyday, too much can lead to skin damage and a greater risk of cancer.
Sunlight consists of two different forms of sunlight, UVA and UVB. UVA rays are the ones that penetrate deep into the skin and can cause damage to connective tissues and blood vessels. This can lead to loss of elasticity , wrinkles and premature ageing. UVB rays affect the outer layers of the skin and can cause redness we know as sunburn. Cancer can develop from overexposure to UVA rays.
In order to protect your skin from both types of UV rays, you should use a broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and one that has an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30. A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 means it would take you 30 times longer to burn compared to not using any sunscreen. An SPF of 50 means it will take you around 50 times longer to burn. Also, an SPF of 50 will only allow 2% of the sun's rays through to your skin.
Those at greater risk of skin cancer should use a higher SPF and everyone should remember to reapply sunscreen regularly and especially after swimming or sweating. Protective clothing and staying in the shade will also be effective ways to stay protected from the sun.
It’s important to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Summer fruits and vegetables will make mealtimes delicious and healthy, so take advantage of the seasonal produce that is available. It is usually an affordable option and will add essential vitamins and minerals to your diet to boost your immune system.
Foods to try could include:
Many of us will engage in more physical activities during the summer months and active leisure activities can help to improve overall fitness and give our health a boost. When the weather is particularly hot it can be tempting and probably a good idea, to stay indoors. However, the earlier and later parts of the day are generally cooler and provide a good chance to go for a walk.
Physical activity can improve and promote mental health, prevent obesity and improve sleep quality which can sometimes be difficult when the weather is warm. Bear in mind some of the things we have already mentioned such as sun protection and staying hydrated.
Being outdoors more means more encounters with bugs. To avoid being bitten by insects, try an insect repellent. Sprays should be applied in a well ventilated area. Whilst many bug bites are harmless, some can be more serious and lead to health problems. If you experience severe pain, swelling, redness that spreads, pus from the bite, a fever, chills or body aches consult a doctor. Washing the area of the bite with soap and water can help to reduce any swelling or itching and applying ice can help too.
In conclusion, proper planning and awareness are all that are needed to be healthy during the hot summer months and continue to have a great time. Stay safe and protected in the sun, drink plenty of water and keep those bugs away.