Summer health update

As the Portuguese weather is notoriously sunny, it’s no surprise that you want to spend as much time outdoors as possible, and make the most of it!

And there’s a lot to be said for doing just that. Enjoying the sun has many proven health benefits – from boosting mental health to increasing essential vitamin D levels. But as the age-old adage goes, ‘everything in moderation’.

Whilst we don’t want to put a dampener on your fun in the sun, it is important to be aware of certain risks. That’s why we have  have put together this useful checklist of summer health risk factors…

Dehydration
The summer heat causes us to sweat to stay cool. However, this means our bodies are constantly losing fluids throughout the day which can lead to dehydration if this fluid is not replaced sufficiently. Children and older people are more susceptible to dehydration, the symptoms of which include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Less frequent urination (and urine that is darker in colour)
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

Mild dehydration can be treated at home safely by increasing your fluid intake. Oral rehydration sachets, available at your local pharmacy, can also help to replace lost sugars, salt, and minerals.

Heat exhaustion
Working, playing, or simply just relaxing in the heat can often leave you feeling a little more tired than usual. Sometimes, all that is needed is a siesta to recharge the batteries. Heat exhaustion, however, is more serious. Symptoms include:

  • Thirstiness
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Excessive sweating
  • Cramps
  • A high temperature of 38°C or above

The key thing is to cool down before the symptoms progress any further. Do this by moving to a shady area, or indoors. Drink plenty of water and lie down with your feet slightly elevated. It also helps to spritz yourself with cold water or to hold an ice pack on your skin.

Heat stroke
Heat stroke can result from prolonged exposure to high temperatures, causing the body to overheat, and it is extremely serious. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shallow breathing
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

If you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke, seek medical help  immediately. If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications such as damage the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles, and can even lead to death.

Sunburn
Too much exposure to the sun’s UV light can cause sunburn, the symptoms of which include:

  • Red coloured skin
  • Painful skin
  • Flaking, dry skin – usually appearing a few days after the skin has been sunburnt

To treat, move indoors and cool the affected area with a cold, wet towel. Apply after sun, drink plenty of fluids, and keep the skin fully covered when out in the sun until the area has healed completely. If you suffer from blisters, tight and painful skin or a heat rash please seek medical attention.

Remember, prolonged sun exposure and repeat episodes of sunburn can cause irreversible damage to the skin and can lead to skin cancer.

Hay fever
Hay fever is an allergy caused by pollen which causes the mucous membranes of the eyes and nose to become inflamed. Typical symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Itchy, red, and watery eyes
  • Headache
  • Feeling tired

Unfortunately, there is no proven cure for this summer health issue at present, but there are various things you can do to relieve your symptoms, including showering and changing your clothes after you have been outside to wash off any pollen. You can also try to keep your windows shut as much as possible.

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