The sun is an invaluable resource for many physical, emotional, and mental health needs. Sun exposure is scientifically proven to improve mood by encouraging serotonin release in the brain and subsequently helping depression symptoms. The sun also helps our skin produce Vitamin D, which plays a very key role in bone health. However, like most things in life, too much of a good thing can ultimately cause harm. This summer we want you and your family to be safe while also benefiting from your time in the sun. First, let’s highlight some of the dangers of over-exposure to the sun.
Beware! Too much heat is not a healthy treat
Some of the common ill effects of excessive sun exposure include:
- Heat Stroke/Heat Exhaustion
Sunburn is typically caused by staying out in the sun for too long without protection (sunscreen and/or clothing with UV protection). Some sun rays, known as UVA and UVB rays, damage skin cells. This can lower the body’s ability to fight illness. Some signs of damaged skin cells (sunburn) include redness of the skin, skin inflammation, and painful skin tenderness. Repeated incidents of sunburn have been associated with an increased risk of various cancers, including but not limited to melanoma, basal cell, and squamous cell carcinoma.
Protect Yourself Against Sunburn
- Sunscreen: Apply sunscreen with a minimum strength of SPF 30. This SPF level protects your skin from the penetration of UVA and UVB rays while you are having fun in the sun.
- Expose in Doses: Maybe take breaks from your sun time. Every 30 minutes – 1 hour find some shade or go indoors to check in with your skin. Re-apply sunscreen at least every 90 minutes or after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Accessorize: Wear a hat that has a brim to protect your face, ears, and parts of your neck for adequate protection from sun rays. Wear clothing that has a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating of 30 or above. Wearing UPF clothing is essentially the same as wearing sunscreen – but you don’t have to worry about reapplying! Though sunglasses do not protect your skin, it is also a good idea to wear sunglasses in bright sunshine.
Treatment for a sunburn
- Cool baths to help relieve pain.
- Applying an ice pack/cold compress to irritated areas may help reduce inflammation.
- Aloe application to help soothe inflammation.
- Aspirin and Ibuprofen can help with inflammation and skin tenderness.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!!
Dehydration occurs from not adequately replenishing the body’s reserve of water. When external temperatures rise the body attempts to cool itself by sweating. This reaction results in a decrease in water inside the body. If this supply is not refilled, dehydration occurs. Symptoms of dehydration include weakness, dizziness, dry mouth, and sometimes nausea.
Prevent & Treat Dehydration
- The only way to prevent and treat dehydration is to hydrate! On average, more than 50% of our bodies are made of water. This means that water is vital to our bodily functions. Making sure our insides our hydrated helps every routine bodily process that we need throughout the day.
- Hydration can be done via water as well as ice, frozen popsicles, or sports drinks that contain electrolytes.
Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
Heat exhaustion is the precursor to heat stroke. When the external temperature is high, the body will attempt to cool itself by sweating and then allowing that sweat to evaporate. This process is not successful if the sweat is not able to evaporate due to high humidity or other circumstances. No evaporation of sweat causes the core body temperature to continue to rise. If lost fluids are not being replaced, this exacerbates the issue even more.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
- Heavy sweating
- Weakness & fatigue
- Pale & clammy skin
- Nausea & vomiting
- Muscle cramps
If these symptoms are not resolved, heat stroke can occur. This is much more damaging than heat exhaustion.
Protect Yourself Against Heat Exhaustion
- Light Loose Clothing: This will ensure your body is able to ‘breathe’ and your sweat is able to evaporate from your skin as much as possible.
- Plan Ahead: Check the forecast and humidity percentage before planning your day. High heat indexes and humidity should be avoided strictly for the safest time in the sun. Typically the hottest points of the day are in the mid-late afternoon.
- Take Breaks: Be sure to plan your sun time in increments. Take a break in the shade or preferably inside a home or shelter with air conditioning.
- Accessorize: Wear a hat that has a brim to simulate shade.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
- Feeling unwell after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water
- Not sweating even while overheated
- A fever over 104 degrees
- Fast breathing/shortness of breath
- Loss of consciousness/unresponsive to stimuli
Heat stroke can cause damage to the brain, liver, and kidneys. If you or someone you know has symptoms of heat stroke, immediate medical attention is necessary. Call 911 immediately or head to the closest emergency room.
General Signs That You Need Medical Attention For Any Sun-Related Condition
- Time: If any of the symptoms mentioned above for each sun exposure condition either lasts for more than one hour or worsens increasingly in even less time, then you should get medical help immediately from an urgent care clinic or emergency room.
- Response: If the injured person is having difficulty following directions, is unable to speak, or has become unconscious, call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.
- Physical Abnormalities: If the person is vomiting or has stopped sweating completely, this is a sign that their heat exhaustion has progressed to heat stroke and you should get emergency medical help to avoid death or permanent disability.
We hope you are having a great summer – but if you find yourself having too much fun in the sun, visit us and we can help!
Every day what we choose to eat is very important, mainly because it fuels our bodies. However, what if we told you it was even more important to consider how that fuel is prepared? There are four general food safety rules that are important to follow, especially as we head to family barbecues and beach cookouts. So before you fire up the grill this holiday weekend, be sure to follow these four simple steps.
Clean: Any object touching the food should not be an agent of contamination. This includes our hands alongside any plates, cutting boards, utensils, pots or pans!
- Be sure to always wash your hands thoroughly before starting to prepare your food. Lather and scrub with soap and water before rinsing and wiping your hands dry.
- If you are chopping any meat or poultry, wash the knife and utensils with soap and hot water before and after use.
- Countertops and cutting boards can harbor old bacteria if not wiped properly; always remember to clean your surfaces before using them.
Separate: Take extra precaution to keep raw foods and cooked foods separated.
- Raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs have natural bacteria that may cause food poisoning when mixed with vegetables or already-cooked foods. This can cause bacteria from raw foods to transfer where they do not belong.
- Remember your surfaces! Do not put cooked foods on surfaces where raw foods have been.
Cook: Temperature is key! Many harmful bacteria are not killed unless subjected to particular high temperatures.
- Invest in a food thermometer! To safely cook your food make sure you know the correct temperature it needs to be cooked to. Raw seafood tends to have a lower temperature needed to cook fully than raw beef, pork or chicken.
- If cooking with a microwave, understand that every microwave is not the same. Check your microwave’s settings to ensure it is operating at the appropriate intensity for the particular food.
- If your food packaging does not indicate the threshold temperature, check the websites of the FDA or CDC for a list of accurate values.
Chill: In general, the colder the temperature, the slower dangerous bacteria can multiply. To preserve your cooked foods, it is important to refrigerate or freeze them. This immobilizes the bacteria, protecting your food from spoiling.
What can happen when these general guidelines are not followed?
Foodborne illnesses are as deadly as they are simply uncomfortable. Some common bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses in the United States include, but are not limited to, Salmonella, Norovirus, Listeria and E.Coli. The more well-known reaction to infection is various forms of gastrointestinal discomfort for 24-48 hours or more. However, vulnerable populations (such as children, senior citizens and the immune compromised) are at even greater risk of permanent injury or even death due to a foodborne illness.
Though the disease will primarily affect the digestive system, every individual is different. No one is certain of how badly a particular bacteria will affect their wellbeing. This is why it is important to understand the general symptoms of food poisoning and when it is necessary to contact a physician.
Common symptoms of food poisoning include:
- Stomach Cramps
When To Call A Medical Professional
- Dry Mouth and Dizziness: When dealing with diarrhea and vomiting, a lot of fluid is being eliminated from your body. If you are unable to replenish your liquids through hydration, you may become dangerously dehydrated. This is often experienced through headache, dizziness, dry throat and dry mouth.
- Bloody Diarrhea: If you see blood in your stool or diarrhea, this could indicate internal bleeding and damage to the lining of the intestines or stomach. This would need immediate evaluation.
- A Dangerously High Fever: If your temperature is more than 101 degrees, then you should see a physician. The physician will try to either eliminate a possible infection through antibiotics or prevent any further infection or inflammation.
We hope that your summer is full of fun, fresh air, and plenty of delicious food. But if you find yourself with food poisoning, we’re here to help!
Summer is around the corner, and for many of us it can’t come soon enough. It’s a time for barbecues, swimming, bike rides, and spending time outside: playing sports, hiking, and exploring the great outdoors. However, these fun outdoor activities bring inevitable pain – kids, in particular, are susceptible to falling, which leads to scraped knees and cut-up hands.
Whether you spend the summer at home, or you rent a beach house or visit family, you need to be prepared for the worst. Often, preparedness is the number one step for injury prevention and mitigation – and having a first aid kit on hand is the first line of defense.
Travel first aid kits are perfect to keep by the pool or in your car, to take with you on a trip, or to leave on your boat or bring camping. There are numerous products made by several different companies and sold in nearly every grocery or drug store – look for a red cross on a little plastic suitcase. When you have the essentials on hand, you’ll always be ready to treat cuts and scrapes on the go, so you can continue to enjoy your own well-deserved vacation time.
What to keep in your first aid kit
Almost any pharmacy will have pre-made, cost-effective kits with the following essentials:
- Adhesive bandages in many sizes
- Gauze dressing pads
- First aid tape
- Rolls of gauze bandage
- Antiseptic towelettes
- Antibiotic ointment packs
- First aid instruction booklet
In addition to first aid kits, you may also want to get a small bag or backpack to fit a few other things. Other items that may come in handy for quick mends after summer falls or slips:
- Small scissors for cutting bandages
- Numbing spray for the more painful cuts
- Disposable sanitary gloves
- Single-dose packages of ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- Tweezers for splinters
- Burn cream
- A clean towel and bottle of water
Here are some basic guidelines to help you care for minor cuts and scrapes:
- Wash your hands before you treat cuts and scrapes to avoid infection. Minor cuts and scrapes usually will stop bleeding on their own fairly quickly, but if they don’t, apply gentle pressure with a clean bandage or the gauze or the fresh towel in your kit and elevate the wound until the bleeding stops.
- Clean the wound. Rinse the wound with fresh water or the recommended distilled water from your kit. If you’re near a faucet, put the wound right under the tap water to rinse it out. Wash around the wound with soap if at home, or with the antiseptic wipes. But don’t get soap in the wound. And don’t use hydrogen peroxide or iodine, for these products can all sting and be irritating. Remove any dirt or debris with tweezers (you can wipe the tweezers down with an antiseptic wipe to ensure cleanliness).
- Apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment right away to keep the scrape moist and to prevent scarring.
- As soon as the cut is dry, apply a bandage, rolled gauze or gauze held in place with paper tape. Covering the wound keeps it clean. If the injury is just a minor scrape or scratch, leave it uncovered.
- Change the dressing at least once a day or whenever the bandage becomes wet or dirty.
- Know when to seek professional treatment (see below).
When to seek professional treatment
Call your doctor or visit a local urgent care facility if:
- You can’t remove all debris that may have gotten into the cut
- Bleeding persists for more than a few minutes after the incident and doesn’t stop after bandaging
- The wound doesn’t heal as expected or opens back up after starting to heal
- There is redness, increasing pain, drainage, warmth or swelling in or around the wound – this could indicate infection and may require antibiotics
- If you are cut by, or step on, rusty metal (such as a nail) and you aren’t sure if you are up to date on your tetanus vaccine
Finally, remember we are always here to help if you need us!
As the weather warms up, many of us will start heading outdoors to enjoy all that nature has to offer. Whether you are planning a picnic at your favorite park or a week-long camping trip, spending time outdoors brings an increased risk of insect bites and bee stings. Mosquitoes, biting flies, ticks, bees, wasps, spiders and scorpions can all cause adverse reactions, ranging from minor annoyances to life-threatening conditions.
While the types of insects you’ll encounter may vary by region, you’ve likely experienced a bug bite or sting at some point in your life. For most people, they result in localized pain and itching, but sometimes you may need to seek medical care. Read on for information on how to treat bites and stings at home, how to reduce the risk of being targeted by pests, and when to seek medical attention.
What to do if you’ve been bitten or stung
If you have already had a run-in with a biting or stinging insect, there are some steps you can take to minimize your discomfort:
- Remove stingers or ticks as quickly as possible.
- Move to a safe place. If you’re stung and are near a wasp nest or bee hive, retreat to an area where you won’t get swarmed.
- Use antiseptic soap to clean the wound. Apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
- Use a cold compress or ice to reduce swelling, and relieve pain and itching.
- Consider using an over-the-counter antihistamine (such as Benadryl) to reduce swelling and itching.
What can you do to reduce the risk of being bitten or stung in the first place?
- Use an insect repellent spray on your body to deter mosquitoes, ticks, and flies.
- Use citronella candles in outdoor spaces to repel mosquitoes from the area.
- Hang yellowjacket traps around your yard.
- Regularly check under the eaves of your roof, in your attic, bushes, dead tree stumps, and other dark corners for signs of bee and wasp nests. You can buy bee and wasp spray that kills on contact and prevents them from coming back to their hive later.
When to seek treatment
Call 911 or head to the ER if you notice any of the following signs of allergic reaction:
- Lightheadedness or fainting
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing or tongue swelling
In some cases, even if you don’t experience an allergic reaction, you may still need to seek treatment. If you are bitten by a tick, there is a chance of contracting Lyme Disease or other tick-borne illnesses. If you find a tick on yourself, should remove it and place it in an airtight container in your freezer and watch for signs of Lyme disease. If you have any symptoms of Lyme DIsease, your healthcare provider can test the tick to see if it’s a carrier. The sooner they diagnose Lyme Disease, the easier and more successful treatment can be.
Further, you might need to see a doctor if a bug bite becomes infected. Signs of infection include swelling that doesn’t improve or gets worse over many days, fluid leaking from the wound, the presence of sores around the wound, warmth radiating from the affected area, fever, and chills. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
We hope that your summer gets off to a great start and you can enjoy the outdoors bug-free! But if you find yourself in need of treatment or advice, we’re here to help. Walk in appointments are always welcome!
The weather is starting to warm up as we head into spring – and with that warm weather comes seasonal allergies. Do you find yourself plagued by itchy eyes, a runny nose, and endless sneezing every time you venture outdoors in the spring? According to the CDC, you may be among the 7.7% of adults (and 7.2% of children) who experience allergic rhinitis – more commonly referred to as hay fever. While seasonal allergies can be unpleasant, there is a lot you can do to reduce your symptoms.
What causes seasonal allergies?
Seasonal allergies are caused by pollen from trees, grasses, and flowering plants. Unlike environmental allergies (allergies caused by food, insect bites/stings, dust, and pet dander, for example), seasonal allergies are triggered by changes in weather. While about ⅔ of people who suffer from seasonal allergies also suffer from at least one environmental allergy, there are many things you can do to reduce your seasonal allergy symptoms.
Common allergy symptoms and how to treat them at home
Most people with seasonal allergies experience a combination of respiratory symptoms (runny nose, sneezing, and/or coughing) and contact reactions (itchy eyes, hives and/or rashes). For some, these symptoms can be debilitating, while for others, it’s a minor inconvenience. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, there are many options for treating them:
- Over-the-counter allergy medication: Allergy pills such as Zyrtec or Claritin are often all it takes for people to find relief from hay fever. Sometimes you will need to try different formulations to find the one that works best for you. If pills alone are not enough or don’t work for you, nasal sprays such as Flonase or Nasacort can also offer relief by delivering medicine directly to your sinuses, where most allergy symptoms originate.
- Nasal rinses/Neti Pot: A non-medical option that works for many people is a daily nasal rinse using a Neti Pot or pre-packaged aerosol nasal spray. If using a Neti Pot or something similar, be sure to use filtered water to avoid introducing bacteria into your nasal cavity. You will also need to add saline to the water to avoid irritating the fragile sinus tissue.
- Avoiding allergens: Pollen counts are greatly affected by weather – wind will stir up pollen and lead to worse symptoms, while rain temporarily decreases pollen counts (although after rain, pollen counts generally skyrocket). Check your local weather report daily (or visit pollen.com) to see what the pollen count is in your area. If it’s high, consider staying indoors with the windows closed, if possible. An air purifier can also help reduce airborne pollen in your home, as will vacuuming (although vacuuming can also temporarily increase airborne pollen inside, being diligent about keeping carpets clean can reduce exposure in the long run). Further, if you must be outdoors when the pollen count is high, consider wearing an N95 mask – especially if you are mowing the lawn or doing other yardwork.
What to do if over-the-counter medication and prevention don’t work
For some people, at-home treatment won’t be enough to offer relief from allergy symptoms. If you are still suffering from hay fever despite taking the steps above, you may want to talk to your doctor or an allergy specialist about next steps. You might be offered allergy testing in the form of a blood test or skin test to figure out what is causing your symptoms; in some cases, you may discover that your allergies are both seasonal AND environmental, and treatment may vary depending on what you are allergic to. Your doctor might recommend a series of allergy shots to desensitize you to your allergens or may prescribe a stronger course of medication to keep your symptoms in check.
If you are suffering from seasonal allergies, we are here to help! Reserve a spot online or walk in today – no appointment needed.