Ten Tips for Summer Health

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Jun 28, 2014

“Life is not merely being alive, but being well.”
Marcas Valerieus Martialis

During a recent Phoenixville Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Dr. Stephanie Kaliner shared some wonderful, practical tips for summer health. I found them quite helpful and thought you might as well. Though a medical doctor provided this information, I am sharing it with you as practical advice for any of us to follow.

Sunburn. It is always wise to use sunblock, a minimum of 30 SPF. And, if you are out in the sun, the sunblock should be reapplied every two hours. 

Poison Ivy. Preventing exposure to poison ivy is always the best treatment. If you are in an area where poison ivy may exist and it is not too hot, it is always wise to wear long pants and long sleeves. If you do come in contact with it, wash off the contacted area within 10 minutes of touching the toxin. Unfortunately, it can take up to a month to get poison ivy toxins out of your system.

Dehydration (Heat Stroke). Drink plenty of water on hot days. The ideal is to drink eight glasses per day. Caffeinated drinks are not a good substitute for water. On hot days, it is always best to try to exercise either early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the temperature is not at the peak. 

Swimmer’s Ear. Swimmer’s ear occurs when swimming under water or when there is water sitting in your ear canal for extended periods of time. The easiest way to prevent swimmer’s ear is to wear ear plugs. The main symptom is pain in the ear canal caused by chewing, laying on the side of the ear or even touching it.

Drowning. Always swim with either a lifeguard present or a person who knows how to swim well. If you own a pool you should be trained in CPR. Make sure all gates have proper locks and never swim alone.

Lyme Disease. Lyme disease is caused by tick bites. If you have been out in the woods or gardening for long periods of time, always do tick checks. Because ticks are so small, they can often go undetected and ultimately cause serious harm.

Mosquito Bites/Bee Stings. If you are out at dusk or night, always use bug spray or keep covered. If you are bitten or stung, always be prepared to have the appropriate treatment plan ready.

Burns (Fire Safety). Fires can easily be started on hot summer days. If you have started a campfire, always employ the most careful preventative strategies before, during and after the fire. If you are burned, you can soak the area in soy sauce or baking soda paste to reduce blistering.

Food Poisoning. Do not eat “salads” if they are left out for extended periods of time. And, always make sure you wash all of your vegetables and fruits well before consuming, whether they come from your garden, the farmer’s market or the super market.

Foreign Bodies (Splinters). Again, prevention is the best treatment. As much as possible, wear shoes when you are walking outside or gloves when working outside. Bare feet and hands make anyone vulnerable to splinters or other foreign bodies. 

Summer days invite us to explore the great outdoors. This is the time to shut off the TV and step outside, breathe the fresh air, dig our hands in the dirt, pick up that bat and ball, fly a kite, go to the park or go to the shore. As James Dent said, “A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing and the lawnmower is broken.”

But no matter what we are doing, Dr. Kaliner’s practical wisdom is always in order. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words can be taken either literally or figurative, “Do what you can; summer will have its flies.”  

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, Pa. 
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