Summer is fun, but it isn’t without hazards. In fact, a surprising number of people become ill or are injured during the summer months. The good news is – summer diseases and injuries are preventable.
Take the case of skin cancer. Over one million new cases of skin cancer occur each year. Melanoma, which is the most dreadful form of skin cancer, has increasing number of cases each year. However, if the skin cancer is diagnosed at an early stage it in entirely curable. The most easily preventable risk factor is to avoid chronic exposure to sun by using sun screen and protective clothing. Surprisingly, 70 percent of the adults and 50 percent of children do not seek shade, wear protective clothing or use sunscreen according to a Centers for Disease Control survey.
As for injuries in water, an estimated nine people drown each day and three times as many need to be taken to the emergency room for near-drowning. For young children ages 1-4 the drowning occur in residential pools with a parent in the house, who has lost sight of the child for less than five minutes. In adolescents and adults, alcohol use in involved in 25-50 percent of the cases. Prevention of drowning is common-sense, but sometimes we forget to use it.
Diseases causes by ticks are probably the most common of summer diseases. Ehrlichiosis (Er-lick-ee-o-sis) and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are common tick associated diseases in the South while lyme and babesiosis are common in the Northeast.
Ehrlichiosis is a disease which causes high fevers 5-10 days after a tick bite with headache and muscle aches. In 60 percent of the children, it causes a mild rash. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is also a tick born disease that causes similar symptoms of high fever, headache and muscle ache as Ehrlichiosis, however it has a significant rash which occurs 10 days after the tick bite. Often these diseases are difficult to diagnose even by experienced physicians. So, it’s important for patients and doctors to consider possible tick borne illness during an episode of fever in the summer months, just as one considers a possible flu during the winter months. The treatment is very simple – a 10 day course of a tetracycline antibiotic. Prevention is also simple: Avoid tick infected areas, wear light-colored clothing and use mosquito repellant with DEET.
Even though the bugs and sun are out there, don’t let them ruin your summer. Take the necessary simple precautions and enjoy.