Summing Up Summer Health
As the mercury continues to rise, staying safe and healthy during the hot summer months becomes an important priority for everyone; but especially for individuals who are planning to participate in outdoor activities.
Due to the heat, humidity, and sun, the summer months can present many health risks. But with a little forethought, not to mention a hat, hydration, sunscreen and shade, the risk of developing a summer-related illness can be greatly reduced if not completely avoided.
Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat-related illness. A person suffering from heat stroke may develop a high fever, become delirious, fall unconscious or begin having seizures.
To avoid heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses, the Arizona Department of Health Services suggests increasing your fluid levels and limiting outdoor activity to early morning hours when it’s the coolest part of the day.1
Overexposure to harsh heat and sunlight can also cause dehydration, the loss of water and important blood salts like potassium and sodium, which are vital for kidney, brain and heart functions. The Center for Disease Control recommends drinking 2 to 4 glasses of cool fluids each day (16-32 ounces), plus an additional glass of water for every hour outdoors.2 For summer activities with excessive sweating, individuals need electrolytes and carbohydrates, which can be found in sports drinks.
The following five tips are useful for anyone who is planning on spending lots of time outside during the hot summer months:
- Drink enough fluids so you can stay hydrated while you are outside.
- Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, lightweight moisture wicking clothes.
- Buy and wear sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection - you should still wear them even when it’s hazy or an overcast day to avoid eye damage.
- Limit outdoor activity to the early morning before it gets hot. The temperatures during the morning will be cooler before the sun comes up.
- Work out in an air-conditioned gym when it's too hot outside.
In addition to dehydration, overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause significant damage to both the eyes and the skin. The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that too much exposure in the sun can be harmful and recommends applying a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going outside.3
Cover Up Your Eyes
The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that these UV rays can also lead to a multitude of eye conditions such as corneal burns, cataracts, and macular degeneration and cancer.4 Sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection and hats with visors are imperative to protecting our eyes.
Your Feet Need Protection too!
People are often so busy taking care of their skin and eyes during summer that they forget about their feet, which are in danger of serious sun damage and with risk of growth of fungus and bacteria during the sweaty summer months. Wearing lightweight shoes and socks that are made of acrylic fibers during the summer will draw moisture away from the feet. Be sure to change your socks at least once a day to lower your risk of summer foot afflictions.
If you have additional questions about summer health, feel free to call your Cigna Medical Group doctor.
The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice. You should always consult with your doctor and consider all relevant factors when making decisions related to your health care.
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