by Zofia Leal
Summer is almost halfway. People are going to beach trips and outing to relax and have fun under the sun. Keep your family’s health and safety as top priority also signals the start of certain kinds of diseases due to the hot and humid weather.
The Department of Health (DOH) announced the six common diseases and conditions during summer season. These are sunburn, flu, sore eyes, stomach ailments, skin diseases and rabies.
Common summer diseases and its symptoms
These diseases are common during the summer season because people often travel and go to places for vacation. Interaction of people from different parts of the country or the world is a condition for different types of viruses or bacteria to be passed on from one person to another.
Also known as “pink eyes” or conjunctivitis, sore eyes is the inflammation of the thin covering of the eyeball and inner eyelid. It is often caused by bacteria, virus or allergy. It is highly contagious and spread through ‘eye to hand to eye contact,’ or even runny nose, cough and contact with contaminated objects. Prolonged and severe cases of sore eyes can lead to corneal scarring and decreased vision.
Symptoms are redness of the eyes, discomfort, burning, gritty sensation, sensitivity to light, eye pain, difficulty in opening the eyes after sleeping, eyelids stuck together after sleeping, water-like discharge, soreness and sore lymph nodes. It may last for 3 to 14 days and patient is recommended to consult a doctor immediately to avoid further damage. It is also advisable for the patient to stay at home until he/she is cured.
Sunburn is caused by prolonged exposure to the sun. In some cases, prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause DNA alteration and in severe cases, skin cancer. Sunburn occurs depending on the period of exposure, skin type and sun’s intensity.
Sunburn makes your skin red and irritated. In severe cases, the skin swells and may develop blisters and can make you feel feverish, nauseated, and weak. Treatments for mild cases of sunburn includes bathing in or applying cold water. Calamine lotion will also lessen itching and irritation.
According to the DOH, vomiting and diarrhea occurs when contaminated food or drinks are consumed. The public is warned against eating street foods and packed food that are pre-cooked for out-of town trips. “Remember that food spoils easily during hot summer months,” the DOH said.
Symptoms of diarrhea are abdominal bloating or cramps, thin or loose stools, watery stool, sense of urgency to have a bowel movement, nausea and vomiting in mild cases. It can be treated through over-the-counter medication. However, in severe cases, blood and mucus are found in the stool. If the patient suffers weight loss and fever, immediately seek medical treatment.
Rabies is caused by being bitten by a dog or any animal that carries the virus.
The first symptoms to look out for after being bitten is having a headache, fever and general weak feeling. The bitten part may also feel itchy or prickly. When left untreated, the person infected with the rabies virus will feel anxiety, confusion, agitation and cerebral dysfunction that will eventually lead to delirium, hallucinations and insomnia.
According to the World Health Organization, the Philippines is among the top 10 countries that deal with rabies annually. It is estimated that 200 to 300 Filipinos die of rabies every year.
Flu/cough and colds
The DOH said that cough and colds easily spread during summer due to occasional rains due to the erratic weather.
The difference between the common cold and flu is that the latter will be felt instantly and will include a fever and aching muscles. The common cold will come gradually and will affect just the nose and throat. Having a cold is also not a hindrance to do your usual activities while flu will make you feel unwell to resume daily work.
“Skin diseases abound when one swims in dirty water or unmaintained public swimming pools,” the DOH said.
One common skin disease is ‘boil’, or a pus-filled infection of the skin. Usually, the hair follicle is infected and will spread to the surrounding areas. The skin will then swell and turn red.
Another example is prickly heat. Tiny bumps of red skin will appear in affected areas which is usually the forehead, upper arm, chest or at body folds. This is caused by the sweat glands being clogged.
Prevention is always better than treatment. For the abovementioned diseases, the DOH provided easy ways on how not to get sick this summer. Here are some do’s and don’ts while enjoying your time under the sun:
- Drink lots of water or fluids (at least eight to nine glasses a day) to avoid dehydration and to replace fluid loss when sweating.
- Vaccinate your pet dogs and cats against rabies.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Make sure to use sunscreen lotion (at least Sun Protection Factor 30 or SPF 30 is recommended) when swimming, jogging, hiking or any other outdoor activity that will expose you to the sun.
- Avoid staying under the sun for more than 3 hours. According to the DOH, “sunburn can be prevented if you time your outdoor activities. Outdoor activities must be done in the early morning or late afternoon. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hide in the shade or seek cool places to prevent ill-effects of too much sun exposure.”
- Bathing before and after swimming in the pool is important to avoid contracting sore eyes and skin diseases.
- Avoid eating street foods.
- Cook food properly and make sure that it is packed in clean containers.
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Make sure they are properly washed before cooking.
- Wear loose light colored clothing. Dark colored clothes traps heat. It is also not advisable to wear tight clothes.
You can also do these in your community:
- Encourage maintenance of public swimming pools. Water in swimming pools should be routinely cleaned and changed regularly to avoid diseases and illnesses from spreading.
- Organize your neighbors, especially children and senior citizens, to avail of free flu vaccines at local health centers.
- Always clean your surroundings to avoid breeding of mosquitoes.
Images by Jun Acullador from Flickr.com. Used under CC license. Some rights reserved.