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Summer2018-04-30T14:32:33+00:00

Hooray, it’s (probably) summer

Summer’s here! Maybe. Is it raining? It’s probably raining. Talking about summer when it’s actually summery is basically impossible, so just pretend it’s nice outside, okay? We’d appreciate it.

Yay, it’s sunny! Before you go skipping out the door to enjoy it though, make sure you’re prepared. Every year the NHS sees an influx of heat-related illnesses that could have been easily avoided. Heat exhaustion, sunburn and dehydration are all preventable with a bit of pre-planning. It’ll ensure you have more time enjoying the summer and less time feeling rough. Plus, you could free up NHS services for people that really need them. Win-win!

HELP ME STAY WELL

HELP ME STAY WELL

There’s a bunch of simple stuff you can do to stay healthy in summer. Not sure where to start? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered. SPEAKING OF WHICH…

PROTECT YOUR SKIN

PROTECT YOUR SKIN

Looking forward to relaxing outside this summer? That’s fine, the sun helps your body produce vitamin D, which is pretty great for you. But too long in the sun without protection can turn pretty quickly from sun-kissed to made-out-with-the-sun-and-now-my-skin-is-on-fire.

Cancer Research UK has a has a useful tool for finding out your skin type to help you gauge when you might be at risk of burning, but even if you don’t burn, exposing your skin to the sun’s harmful UV rays unprotected increases the risk of developing skin cancer.

Remember to wear sun screen (at least factor 15 – anything lower and you’re basically not wearing anything) and keep topping it up throughout the day. The sun is hottest between 11am and 3pm during the summer, so while it’s tempting to strip down to your swimwear and soak up those rays, you’re more at risk of sunburn and heatstroke. Try to stay somewhere shady and cool during this period, or that you’re only in the sun for short bursts. It doesn’t hurt to wear a hat and sunglasses too to protect your head and eyes (check that your sunnies have UV protection).

HYDRATE

HYDRATE

The human body is made up of roughly 2/3 water, and it’s a good idea to keep it that way. Trouble is, in higher temperatures the dang stuff starts leaking out of you from all over the shop. Make sure you stay hydrated by getting that sweet, sweet H2O in your body throughout the day. If you’re going for a run or doing exercise outside, try to do it in the morning or evening when it’s cooler.

Babies, kids and older people are more at risk from dehydration, so make sure you’re looking out for them, too.

HOLIDAY HEALTH

HOLIDAY HEALTH

Going abroad this summer? Let us be the first to say how jealous we are. Now that’s done, make sure if you’re going away that you’re up-to-date with any vaccinations that you need before you travel. Your GP should be able to help you with this, or visit NHS Choices for more advice on which vaccinations you might need.

It’s also a good idea to check whether the local water in your destination country is safe to drink – if you’re not sure stick to bottled stuff, and bear in mind that the water used to make ice and to wash fruit and veg might not have come from a bottle!

Your pharmacist will be able to give you advice on first aid stuff you should take with you when travelling, such as paracetamol, rehydration sachets and insect repellent. You should also check out the NHS Choices website for more great advice on what to do before you travel, and how to stay healthy while you’re away.

If you have regular prescription medicines, make sure you have enough to cover the duration of your trip, and that you give your pharmacy enough notice to prepare it for you before you travel. Speak to your GP beforehand if you’re going to need extra to cover your trip.

HELP ME GET BETTER

HELP ME GET BETTER

British weather, amirite? You can go out in the morning in a coat, and by lunchtime wish you were wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Needless to say, it’s pretty easy to be caught off-guard by warm weather in the UK, so if you do find yourself with some sort of summer ailment, here’s what you should do.

SUNBURN

SUNBURN

Anyone who’s ever been sunburnt can tell you that it’s extremely unpleasant (We’re being polite with that statement).

Handily in most cases you can treat sunburn at home. Stay out of the sun, cool your skin by having a cold bath or shower, or by dabbing the area with a cold, wet flannel. Make sure you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and use after-sun lotion (or any lotions with aloe vera in them) to soothe the burn. Taking paracetamol or ibuprofen might help to relieve the pain, too – check the packet or ask your pharmacist for what dosage you should take if you’re not sure.

HEAT EXHAUSTION / HEATSTROKE

HEAT EXHAUSTION / HEATSTROKE

You know when you’ve spent a day in the sun and you feel a bit headachey, a bit dizzy or sick and really, really sweaty? That’s probably heat exhaustion. The fix for this is to get some fluids in you, cool down, and to lie down with your feet up slightly. In young kids, heat exhaustion can also make them floppy and sleepy, as well as those other symptoms. It’s generally not too serious, and you should start to feel better in half an hour or so.

If not, or your symptoms get worse, you might have heat stroke, which is serious. If you or the person you’re with has shortness of breath, feels hot and dry to the touch, or loses consciousness or becomes unresponsive it’s time to call 999. There’s a full list of symptoms for heatstroke and heat exhaustion on the NHS choices website, so make sure you take a look. Prevention is key with this one, so make sure you read our guide to being sun safe too!

DEHYDRATION

DEHYDRATION

You get dehydrated when your body loses more liquid than you putting into it – for instance if you’re exercising or spend too long in the sun without drinking. You can also get dehydration if you’ve been sick or have diarrhoea, or if you’ve drunk too much alcohol (BBQs, right?). It can make you tired, dizzy, and make your pee super yellow and stinky.

It’s pretty basic advice for this one – just keep drinking! Water, that is. If you drink enough during the day you should be fine, but if you think you’re dehydrated start with small sips and then gradually drink more until you’re feeling better and your pee is a more healthy, pale colour. Alcohol and sugary drinks aren’t great for rehydration, so you’re best off sticking to water or squash.

Kids babies and older people can get dehydrated more easily, so keep an eye on them and make sure they’re getting enough fluids.

NHS Choices has some great advice on dehydration, and what to do if your symptoms get more serious.

INSECT BITES / STINGS

INSECT BITES / STINGS

We’re not the only ones that enjoy warmer weather. The combination of there being more insects about and us being outside more generally leads to a fair amount of insect bites or stings. Common culprits at this time of year are mosquitoes, wasps, horseflies and ticks – to name a few. In the main insect bites and stings aren’t anything more than a mild annoyance, and can be treated at home with over-the-counter medicines from your pharmacy. There’s a list of symptoms and advice on the NHS Choices website which is worth a look.

If you’re worried about a bite or a sting, or you think it might be infected or you start to feel unwell, give NHS 111 a call and explain your symptoms – they’ll be able to give you some advice. As always, if you’re really worried or you or someone you’re with starts to have a severe reaction to a bite or sting, call 999 right away.