The most common summer health issues - and how to treat or avoid them

Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 14:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 15:38 pm

Warm weather might be what we all crave during the cold, drizzly months, but when summer finally does roll around it can bring with it a host of pesky health problems.

But with the right precautions, you can beat the heat and stay illness free over the coming months.

Here are some of the most common summer illnesses to be aware of and how best to avoid them.

Hay Fever

Sneezing, itchy eyes, headache and a runny nose are familiar symptoms to those who suffer from hay fever, and they are typically made worse when the weather is warmer.

While hay fever can't be cured, the NHS suggests doing the following to help minimise the symptoms:

Put Vaseline under your nose to trap pollenWear wraparound sunglasses to prevent pollen getting into your eyesShower and change your clothes after you've been outsideStay indoors when possible, and keep windows and doors closedVacuum regularly and dust with a damp clothBuy a pollen filter for the air vents in your car and a vacuum cleaner with a special HEPA filter

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Asthma

Asthma symptoms can be triggered by the warmer, humid weather of the summer months, as well as in response to allergies such as pollen and hay fever.

Symptoms include wheezing, breathlessness, coughing and a tight chest and can be relieved in a few minutes with an inhaler.

If you have to use an inhaler often, the NHS suggest you may also need a preventer inhaler which is used every day to prevent asthma symptoms occurring.

Heat stroke

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion can be recognised by symptoms including headache, dizziness, high temperature, excessive sweating, loss of appetite and feeling sick.

To help prevent these symptoms, the NHS recommends:

Drinking plenty of cold drinks, especially when exercisingTaking cool baths or showersWearing light-coloured, loose clothingSprinkling water over the skin or clothesAvoiding the sun between 11am and 3pmAvoiding excess alcohol and extreme exercise

Sunburn

If you plan on making the most of the sunshine, be sure to keep your skin well protected by wearing a high factor sunscreen and covering up if you feel yourself burning.

The sunscreen should have UVA protection and a sun protection factor of at least 15 to protect against UV rays.

If your skin does burn you can relieve symptoms with a cool flannel or shower, aloe vera and painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to minimise the pain.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Dehydration

Avoid suffering from dehydration in the hot weather by taking on plenty of fluids throughout the day and eating cold foods, such as salads and fruit, which have a high water content.

Excess alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks are best avoided, and if you notice symptoms including dry lips, mouth and eyes, feeling tired, thirsty or lightheaded, it's a sign you need to re-hydrate.

Vitamin D deficiency

Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is essential to helping the body absorb calcium from food, which is important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

Our bodies rely on creating enough vitamin D during the summer to last for a whole year, so spending some time in the sunshine can be beneficial to your health.

Bites and stings

Insect bites and stings caused by nettles, wasps and bees are common in summer, but the itching and swelling of the skin can be easily treated.

Wash the affected area with soap and water, and use a cold compress (like a cool flannel), along with a mild hydrocortisone cream or spray, or an antihistamine, to help reduce the swelling and itching.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Prickly heat

Prickly heat, or heat rashes, is a common summer affliction usually caused by sweating, resulting in itchy, red spots or mild swelling of the skin.

It is best avoided by drinking plenty of fluid to avoid dehydration and keeping the skin cool, wearing loose cotton clothing and using lightweight bedding.

Food poisoning

Barbecues may be a popular summer treat but dining al fresco can come with its pitfalls, so be sure to wash your hands frequently if you are preparing food, avoid leaving raw meats next to other food items, and ensure it is fully cooked through before serving.

Travelling abroad

If you're heading abroad during the summer you may need to get some vaccinations before travelling to protect against some of the infectious diseases found overseas, such as yellow fever, typhoid and hepatitis A.

NHS Fit for Travel and Travel Health Pro are both excellent resources for finding out what inoculations are necessary ahead of your trip.

Travel sickness

If you're doing some travelling this summer and suffer from travel sickness, tablets, patches and acupressure bands can be purchased from your local pharmacy to help relieve the symptoms.