When the snow flurries vanish and the sun shines bright... Summer is the most anticipated time of the year for those living in the Northern part of the country.
However, it is important to not let excitement overwhelm potential health risks. These commonly include concerns related to the summer heat and sun.
BistroMD sheds light on the biggest mistakes when it comes to soaking in the summer season and how to minimize such risks!
How to Stay Healthy in the Summer
Staying healthy in the summer involves knowing how to avoid sun poisoning and sunburn. Safe and healthy eating and drinking practices are included, too.
1. Being in the Sun Too Much
Though it may be tempting to enjoy the summer months outside, it is important to not overstay your welcome in the hot summer sun. Doing so can increase the risk of sunburn, sun poisoning, and skin cancer.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is "the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells." It is mostly caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds. To protect the skin, rigorously apply sunscreen using these tips:
• Adults should wear a sunscreen with no less than an SPF 15 according to the FDA. However, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) advises adults and children should wear an SPF of at least 30.
• Sunscreens should also be broad-spectrum. This means they have the ability to protect against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA is what makes the skin age and UVB is what burns the skin.
• Buy water-resistant sunscreen, especially if planning to get in the water. Reapply sunscreen every 80 minutes or so.
• Cover body 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and every two to four hours of outdoor activity. One ounce, or the size of a shot glass, is considered the safe amount of sunscreen needed to cover exposed areas of the body.
Another way to prevent sunburn and sun poisoning is by reducing the time spent out in the sun. This especially serves true when the sun's rays are usually strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
As a general rule for sun protection, three to four hours is plenty of time to catch an adequate amount of rays for adults. Two hours or less is also more than enough time for young children. Make sure to take frequent breaks in the shade for at least 15 to 20 minutes of every hour, too.
2. Mismanaging a Sunburn
But if you do end up with a sunburn... Ditch the ice cubes commonly used to manage it. Even mild sunburns can react to extreme cold by producing more heat, which may just agitate the affected area.
The AAD suggests the following tips for treating and relieving a sunburn:
• Putting a cold, damp towel on the skin for 10 to 15 minutes a few times each day
• Applying a moisturizer with aloe vera or soy
• Drinking extra water, leaving blisters alone
• Taking ibuprofen
3. Disregarding Sunglasses
Sunglasses do much more than complement style during sunny days...
They protect eyes from the ultraviolet (UV) rays, ultimately to lessen the risk of:
• Cataracts, a clouding of the eye's lens that may lead to blurred vision
• Macular degeneration, a result of damage to the retina that destroys central vision
• Pterygium, a tissue growth over the eye's surface.
According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), look for sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation.
4. Swimming Unsafely
Taking a dip or swim in the pool lessens the intensity of the summer heat. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10 people die daily from unintentional drowning. And of these ten, two are children aged 14 or younger.
Experts encourage the following tips for safer swimming for you and your loved ones:
• Take swimming lessons
• Learn CPR
• Wear life jackets
• Use the buddy system
• Avoid drinking alcohol
• Know the local weather conditions
5. Curating Bacterial BBQs
The CDC estimates that each year 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness, while 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. And unfortunately, summer is a prime time for food poisoning as the grill heats up and warm weather flourishes germs.
Lessen the risk of foodborne illnesses by keeping hands washed and cleaning prep surfaces and appliances. Cook and hold meats to their proper internal temperature as well.
6. Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Reaching for a cold one can have a negative impact on your diet and health if not careful. And it can be casual to lose track of intake during an endless summer night.
Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is never a good idea either, especially if you are going to be in the sun for more than a couple of hours. Interestingly, too, developing research suggests white wine is linked to skin cancer.
Although drinks can still be enjoyed this summer season, it is important to moderate intake and stick to portion sizes. Standard drinking sizes include 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
7. Eating Too Many High-Fat, High-Sugar Foods
One of the biggest problems with heading to the beach or lounging by the pool is the desire to pack those favorite summer staples. Because whether it be chips and dip, soda, hamburgers, and hot dogs, most of these foods are high in sugar, fat, and calories.
Swap out those high-fat and high-sugar foods with healthier choices. For instance, these healthy summer snacks offer protein and fiber while being controlled in calories. Delicious options include watermelon and yogurt parfaits and no-bake energy balls.
8. Consuming Foods Linked to Sunburns
The foods we choose to eat may not only affect the health of our body internally but can increase the susceptibility to sunburns. That being said, diet is likewise a piece of knowing how to avoid a sunburn.
The anti-inflammatory properties of the following foods may act as a natural defense against the sun and sunburns:
• Salad greens
• Fatty fish such as salmon
• Green tea
9. Neglecting Water Intake
Exposing yourself in the hot summer sun for more than a couple of hours can cause the body to sweat and lose essential fluids. If too much water is lost, and not allowing the body to cool itself off, may lead to more serious health problems such as heat exhaustion and stroke.
For every hour out in the sun, drink at least one 16-ounce bottle of water. Also, drink a minimum of 64-ounces per day all year round with these easy tips to drink more water daily.
10. Forgetting About Ticks
Lyme disease is a bacterial illness spread by ticks, specifically from a black-legged, deer tick. The initial bite surfaces a bulls-eye patterned rash then presents with flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, fever, body aches, and chills.
Staying proactive is one of the best ways to reduce Lyme disease risk. If partaking in outdoor activities, wear protective clothing. Tall socks and long pants and shirts are great examples to keep skin covered and less accessible to ticks.
Spraying on insect repellant is another way to reduce ticks, along with regular and thorough tick checks. If a tick is found, remove it as soon as possible. Proper tick removal involves using fine-tipped tweezers to grip the tick close to the skin. Cleaning the bite area and hands following is advised, too.