9 Health Issues That Are More Common In The Summer
For most of us, summer is all about having fun, finding time to relax in the sun, and enjoying the outdoors before winter creeps back up on us. While warm weather and sunshine tends to have a mood-boosting effect on the majority of people, there are certain health issues that are more common in the summer that the change of seasons can usher in.
Given the hot weather, and the surplus of time spent enjoying outdoor activities — especially in the water — there are certain infections and illnesses you are more prone to contracting than during the colder seasons. Not to mention, tick, flea, and mosquito season are all in full swing throughout the summer months, and all three of these pesky creatures can transmit viruses to people. This doesn't mean you should spend all of June and July cooped up inside, of course. But rather, you can be aware of the health concerns that tend to spike in the summertime.
Fortunately, most of the health issues that commonly arise and increase in frequency during the warmer months are preventable to a certain degree. So, here are nine illnesses that are more common in the summer, and steps you can take to prevent yourself from coming down with one of them, or getting sick.
When the temperature and humidity levels rise, there is greater chance you can get heatstroke — a medical condition that can make your core body temperature rise, and cause nausea, severe headaches, confusion, rapid breathing, and more. Though lounging too long in the sun is a surefire way to get heatstroke (sometimes called sunstroke), you can also get heatstroke when working indoors in extreme temperatures.
2. Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a tick-borne, inflammatory illness that around 300,000 people in the U.S. contract every year. It can cause a rash, flu-like symptoms, joint pain, and fatigue in the first few week after an infected tick bites you. It's treatable with antibiotics if caught early, however, the American Lyme Disease Foundation (ALDF) reports if the illness progresses without medical treatment, it can lead to severe headaches, arthritis, cardiac issues, and even neurological disorders.
According to research surrounding the seasonality of Lyme disease, "approximately two-thirds of [Lyme Disease] cases from 1992 to 2006 had a reported onset date in June, July, or August." Meaning, it's super important to use a tick repellent on yourself (and your pets!), when spending time outdoors during the summer months, as well as check yourself for ticks.
3. Food Poisoning
A 2017 report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that rates of foodborne illness peak during the summer, when it is between 90 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit — the perfect weather conditions for bacteria to grow on food products. Symptoms of food poisoning typically include vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, a fever, and headaches. They symptoms can range from mild to severe; food poisoning will usually pass on its own at home, but in some cases, it may be serious enough that you should seek medical attention. Make sure, especially in hot weather, to refrigerate any food that can possibly spoil right away.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) says that "pollen, mold and insect stings are common allergy culprits during the summer months." If you know you have allergies that spike in the summer, make sure to have your prescribed medications on-hand when you go outside, and invest in a couple products that help ease your allergy symptoms.
You may not think of sunburn as a serious medical issue, but Reuters reported that 11.2 million dollars were spent on sunburn-related injuries in the U.S., in 2013 alone. Sunburn can actually cause second-degree burns, leading to extremely painful blistering. So please, please be certain to load up on the SPF! There are even sunscreens made for people with sensitive skin, so try to always put some on before you spend time in the sun.
6. Waterborne Diseases
Who doesn't like to take a dip in the lake, or splash around at the beach during warmer months? Though it may be part of the summer fun, it's important to be aware that there are many waterborne illnesses you can contract. According to a 2017 study published in the American Family Physician, algae, bacteria, chlorine gas, parasites, bacteria can lead to gastrointestinal infections, like colitis. Further, the study found waterborne agents can also cause respiratory illnesses, as well as soft tissue conditions.
7. Poisonous Plant Rashes
Everything is in full bloom during the summer — including plants that are poisonous to humans and animals alike. As Healthline reported, poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac all have an oil in their leaves called urushiol that's responsible for the painful and blistery rash these plants can leave you with if you come into contact with them. Worst yet, a poison ivy rash can last up to eight weeks. If you are planning to spend time outdoors in areas these plants are native to, be sure to wear long pants or a barrier cream. And, be sure to bathe your pets that regularly go outside, so you don't catch it from them!
8. West Nile Virus
Ticks aren't the only bugs carrying illnesses you need to worry about. Insects like mosquitoes carry many vector-borne diseases — including the West Nile virus. Though people who catch the virus usually experience mild flu symptoms, it can, in extreme cases cause inflammation in the brain and surrounding tissues. According to a map from the CDC, last updated in February 2018, every U.S. state (with the exception of Maine) had cases of people infected with the West Nile virus. Considering summer is the height of mosquito season, be sure to protect yourself from mosquitoes however you can to reduce your risk of catching any viruses.
9. Athlete's Foot
The College of Podiatry explains that athlete's foot is a "fungal infection of the skin that can lead to intense itching, cracked, blistered or peeling areas of skin, redness and scaling." Since this fungal infection thrives in wet conditions, summer is a prime time to catch it. Pool decks, locker rooms, saunas, and wearing flip flops in public places are all major culprits in spreading athlete's foot Athlete's foot is easy to avoid: Just be sure to wear shoes in places where athlete's foot is common, wash your feet daily, and keep your feet dry.
Keep your health on the up-and-up throughout the summer months by simply being aware of the risks when you're hanging outdoors, in the pool, or in the sun.