Beat the Heat and These Other Summer Health Hazards
The sun is shining, school is over, and it’s time to spend all day by the water — so you’re probably thinking “what’s not to love about summer?” While we love the warmer weather and the sunshine, it does come with a few health risks that vacationers can be quick to forget.
While you should be wearing sunscreen year-round (who knew?) it’s especially important to put sunscreen on before going outside in the hot summer sun. This is also the time to pay more attention to the early warning signs of skin cancer. Before taking a shower or getting into your bathing suit, take a look at any moles or blemishes on your body while keeping the skin cancer ABCs in mind:
- A - Asymmetry
- B - Border
- C - Color
- D - Diameter
- E - Evolving
Schedule an appointment with your dermatologist if you notice any new or irregular moles, or those that have changed in color.
Even when you’re just sitting in the sun, it’s still possible to get heat stroke. Similar to a fever, heat stroke can cause your body’s core temperature to rise — something that can be life-threatening.
Avoid heat stroke by drinking plenty of water, working out outside early in the morning or late at night (when the sun isn’t as strong), and knowing the warning signs of heat stroke:
- Sudden confusion
- Shortness of breath
- Not sweating
- Racing pulse
Picnics and barbecues are a summertime staple and a fun way to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. But unfortunately, they also put you at an increased risk for food poisoning. From foods not being cooked thoroughly enough to those that are left sitting out too long, the CDC estimates that 76 million people suffer from food poisoning every year.
Especially in the summer, water is your best friend. Whenever you leave your house, take a water bottle with you. If you work with or have children, remember to make them take water breaks, since they’re less likely to ask for water when they need it.
Contrary to popular belief, cases of depression and suicide attempts increase in the summer, not winter. Fewer responsibilities and commitments (like school or a job) make it easier for people to fall victim to depressive episodes. Furthermore, social media can make people feel left out or like their life isn’t as good as others’. Remember to make mental health a priority this season and to seek help if you’re feeling depressed or suicidal.
It’s true — rates of unprotected sex rise slightly in the summer. Even if love is in the air, don’t forget that the risk of contracting an STI after unprotected sex is very real.