Summer has arrived, and so have the summer health hazards. If you work in the Emergency Department, here are some of the most common ailments you might see. Ryan Stanton, MD, a full-time emergency physician in Lexington, Ky., shares the Top 7 Summer Health Hazards with WebMD.
1. Mower Injuries. Toes, hands, and fingers can get caught in the mower blades, and things like rocks and sticks can fly out of them. To be safe when mowing, advise patients to wear closed-toed shoes, sunglasses, gloves, and long pants that will protect them from flying debris. Always keep kids away from the push mower and off the riding mower.
2. Boating Accidents. Life jackets are a requirement on board, and kids need to have them on at all times. "Even if having them under the seat fulfills the law, in an accident, chances are anyone who doesn't know how to swim won't be able to get to them in time," Dr. Stanton advises.
3. Dehydration. People can get dehydrated any time of year, but it's much more common in the summer months, when they are active outdoors in the hot sun. Heatstroke, which occurs when your internal temperature rises to dangerously high levels, is the most severe form of dehydration. People with heatstroke stop sweating, may pass out, have hallucinations, or suffer seizures.
For persons suffering serious dehydration or heatstroke, get them indoors, have them lay down, and cool them off with ice packs and cool cloths. Severe cases may require intravenous fluids. Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, is the best way to prevent dehydration.
4. Sunburn. The risk for melanoma doubles when someone has had just five sunburns in a lifetime. "A sunburn is a first-degree burn, right up there with thermal burns," Dr. Stanton says. "And we even see some second-degree thermal burns, often when people are out drinking or falling asleep in the sun and don't realize how long they've been out there."
To treat severe sunburn:
-Drink water or juice to replace fluids lost while sweating in the hot sun.
-Soak the burn in cool water for a few minutes or put a cool, wet cloth on it.
-Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen.
-Treat itching with an antihistamine cream or a spray, which helps block the inflammatory reaction.
-Apply an antibiotic ointment or aloe cream with emollients that soften and soothe the skin, directly to the burned area.
5. Food Poisoning. Food poisoning hits its peak in the summer. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has guidelines to prevent food poisoning:
- Wash hands and the surfaces where food is being prepared.
- Wrap raw meat securely and keep it stored away from other food items.
-Make sure foods are cooked thoroughly. Steaks should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees, ground beef and pork to 160 degrees, and poultry to 165 degrees.
- Keep everything refrigerated for as long as possible.
6. Fireworks accidents. There are a significant number of hand and eye injuries from backyard fireworks every summer. The safest way to watch fireworks is at a professionally sponsored display. At least six states ban all consumer fireworks, and several more allow them only with limitations.
7. Insect bites and stings. For most people, a bee sting is just painful, but for a few, it can be life-threatening. Three in 100 adults in the United States, or nearly 7 million people, have life-threatening allergies to insect stings. People are recommended to go to the ER if they have:
-hives, itchiness, and swelling over large areas of the body
-tightness in the chest or trouble breathing
-swelling of the tongue or face
-dizziness or passing out.
Now that you know what to look out for, here's to enjoying the warm summer months happily, and most importantly, safely!
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