Don’t take summer health risks lightly, as their effects can be uncomfortable or even dangerous in some instances.
Watch out for summer health risks to ensure you and your family stay well!
Like slacking on diet or exercise is easy to do when you’re consumed with sun and fun, it’s easy to ignore common health issues.
Knowing more about common summer health risks and how to stay safe this summer can optimize you and your family’s health and overall quality of life!
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12 Summer Health Risks and How to Avoid Them
1. Upper Respiratory Illnesses
You might not think of illnesses as summer health risks, but numerous upper respiratory viruses and other illnesses can affect you and your family all year long, even during the heat of the summer.
To reduce your risk of becoming ill, use some of the following precautions:
- Wash your hands with soap often or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Drive to summer vacation destinations instead of flying
- Wear a mask if you’re among large crowds of people
- Don’t touch door handles or other shared surfaces if you don’t have to
- Maintain social distancing from large crowds
- Take a multivitamin supplement and probiotics to strengthen your immune system
- Eat a nutritious diet rich in fruits and vegetables
- Get regular exercise and plenty of sleep (at least 7 hours)
- Don’t smoke, use recreational drugs, or drink alcohol excessively
- Get vaccines for you and your family if your doctor recommends it
Keeping your immune system strong is the best way to fight off illnesses, even during the summer months when you might not think much about getting sick.
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2. Insect-Borne Diseases
Mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, and other insects can carry diseases, some of which can be serious.
If you’re outdoors this summer season, especially if you spend time in wooded places or areas with tall grasses, keep your skin covered or wear bug spray.
Check your body for ticks and if you find one, remove it immediately to reduce your risk of contracting an insect-borne disease.
See your doctor right away if you or someone in your family experiences symptoms associated with an insect-borne disease, such as:
- Sore muscles
- Stomach pain
If you contract an insect-borne disease, such as Zika virus, Yellow Fever, Malaria, Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, your provider might recommend you take medications or undergo other treatments to reduce symptoms and your risk of complications.
3. Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, and your risk increases with high amounts of sun exposure during the heat of the summer.
To reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, which can be dangerous or even deadly in some cases, consider the following:
- Stay in the shade when outdoors when possible
- Wear sunglasses when you’re outdoors
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher
- Keep your skin covered
- Wear a hat with a brim
Protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays has numerous advantages.
In addition to lowering your risk of skin cancer, you can minimize wrinkles, fine lines, sun spots, freckles, and other unwelcome signs of aging.
If you notice any new, unusual, or changing moles or skin spots, see your doctor for an evaluation to get screened for skin cancer.
The sun isn’t ALL bad. Check this out and see how sunshine can help boost your immune system while also reducing your stress and improving your mood.
During the heat of the summer, dehydration is a concern, especially if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors.
Bring water bottles with you wherever you go, and drink water consistently.
Men need at least 16 cups of total fluids daily — possibly even more in hot weather if you lose a lot of fluids through sweating.
Set daily water intake goals and ensure you meet them on a daily basis.
Track water intake and look at your urine to make sure it’s light yellow or clear in color instead of dark yellow.
Other signs of dehydration to watch out for include:
- Extreme thirst
- Infrequent urination
- Dry mouth
- Weight loss during exercise sessions
Weigh yourself before and after exercise to find out if you should drink more water to re-hydrate.
If you’re exercising for more than 60 minutes, consider consuming a sports drink or gel in addition to water to keep your electrolytes balanced.
5. Heat Exhaustion
Another summer health risk to watch out for during the heat of summer is heat exhaustion.
Working out in hot temperatures can be dangerous without taking proper precautions.
Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke to watch for include:
- Heavy sweating
- Muscle cramps
- Hot, red skin
- Passing out
- A headache
- A high body temperature
If you or a loved one experience these or other symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, get to a cool place, cool down your body with cold packs or cold towels, drink a lot of cool water, and seek medical attention if necessary.
To avoid heat exhaustion and its symptoms, avoid strenuous or long-lasting exercise in very hot weather, stay in the shade whenever possible, don’t wear dark colors, and drink lots of water.
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6. Poor Indoor Air Quality
While you may be spending plenty of time outdoors this summer season, a summer health risk that might not have crossed your mind is related to poor indoor air quality.
Breathing in dirty air can take a toll on you and your family’s health and contribute to unpleasant or dangerous symptoms, especially if you have allergies or asthma.
Symptoms associated with poor indoor air quality can include:
- Eye, nose, or throat irritation
- Shortness of breath
- Sinus congestion
To improve indoor air quality in your home, change air conditioner filters often and use air purifiers.
Keep your home as clean as possible and free from dust, pet dander, and mold.
Remove mold from baths and showers, keeping these areas as dry as possible to prevent future mold from forming.
Get a carbon monoxide detector in your home if you don’t already have one.
7. Uncontrolled Diabetes
Over 100 million adults in the United States live with diabetes or prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Uncontrolled diabetes is a summer health risk, but it’s also a health risk during the rest of the year.
Uncontrolled diabetes and high blood sugar put you at risk of developing heart problems, kidney damage, nerve problems, eye damage, foot problems, hearing impairment, and even dementia.
To reduce your risk of developing diabetes-related complications and better control blood sugar if you already have the disease, consider the following:
- Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables
- Get regular exercise
- Achieve or maintain a healthy weight
- Control your total carbohydrate intake
- Avoid white bread, white rice, and other refined carbohydrates
- Take diabetes medications if your doctor prescribes them
If you have a history of high blood sugar, monitor your levels at home consistently to ensure they stay within a normal, healthy range.
Prediabetes, a condition in which your blood sugar is higher than normal but you don’t yet have diabetes, is often reversible by adopting healthy lifestyle habits and weight loss.
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8. Heart Attack
Heart attacks can occur among older and younger men alike.
In fact, every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a heart attack, which is deadly in some instances.
To lower your risk of experiencing a heart attack, eat nutritious fiber-rich foods (especially fruits and vegetables).
Control your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, and achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
Avoid diets high in sodium.
Signs of a heart attack to watch out this summer season include:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Chest tightness, pressure, or pain
- Abdominal pain, heartburn, or indigestion
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweats
- A squeezing sensation in your chest
Seek medical attention for yourself or a loved one at the first sign of a heart attack or stroke.
Signs of a STROKE, which occurs when blood supply to your brain gets reduced or interrupted, include:
- Paralysis or numbness in your arm, leg, or face
- Problems seeing, blurry vision, or blackened vision
- Difficulty speaking or slurring your words
- Problems understanding what others are saying
- Difficulty walking
- A sudden, severe headache
- Loss of coordination
After a heart attack or stroke, the earlier you or a loved one get medical attention the better your chance of making a full, or nearly full, recovery over time.
9. Food-Born Illnesses
You might not think about eating food as a summer health risk, but consuming raw or under-cooked meat, fish, poultry, seafood, or eggs puts you at risk of foodborne illnesses, otherwise known as food poisoning.
Signs and symptoms of food poisoning to watch out for this summer include:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal cramping
- Bloody diarrhea
- Watery diarrhea
If you experience food poisoning, symptoms might appear within a few hours or even a few days after eating contaminated food.
The sick feeling you experience can last several hours or several days.
To avoid food poisoning and eliminate it from your list of summer health risks in men, thoroughly cook protein-rich foods.
Don’t eat raw eggs and make sure the inside of meat, poultry, and seafood is cooked all the way through and no longer pink.
Its juices should run clear, rather than pink or red.
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Believe it or not, accidents are the third leading cause of death in the United States and a top summer health risk for men.
This summer season, use extreme caution when driving a car or boat, riding a bike or motorcycle, jet skiing, surfing, water skiing, wakeboarding, or participating in other water sports.
Wear a helmet when necessary and avoid excessive alcohol or drug use, which can drastically increase your risk of being involved in an accident.
11. Head Injuries
Whether you’ve been in a car accident, fall and hit your head, or take a blow to your head while playing contact sports, head injuries are serious summer health risks.
Not getting the proper rest needed to help your brain heal after an injury is detrimental for brain health and cognitive functioning.
Signs of a concussion or traumatic brain injury to watch out for include:
- Continuous headaches
- Ringing in your ears
- Taste or smell disorders
- Personality changes
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Confusion or forgetfulness
- Seeing stars or light sensitivity
Symptoms of a concussion might appear immediately or up to several days after your injury.
See your doctor at the first sign of a head injury in you or a loved one.
Follow all post-injury instructions from your doctor to optimize recovery.
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12. Weight Gain
Weight gain in the summer might happen for numerous reasons.
Summer cookouts with friends, summer vacations, other social gatherings, and drinking alcohol can increase your risk of packing on unwanted pounds.
If this summer season you find yourself reaching “overweight” status, your risk of chronic diseases and their risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes, goes up.
Your self-esteem can also take a toll.
To lower your summer health risk of unwanted weight gain, adopt a few simple healthy habits, including:
- Drink more water and drink water before meals
- Cut back on alcohol or avoid it entirely
- Steer clear of white bread and other refined carbohydrates
- Eat lots of protein, non-starchy vegetables, avocados, olive oil, and other heart-healthy fats
- Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night
- Fill half of each plate with non-starchy vegetables
- Avoid soda and other drinks containing added sugar
- Nix processed meats and fried foods
- Eat fruit or drink fruit smoothies in place of sweets
- Exercise at least 30-60 minutes daily
- Stay active all throughout the day
- Reduce stress as much as possible
- Weigh yourself every day
- Track your food intake in a journal or app
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