If you’ve ever had poison ivy, you know how awful it is. Although it’s not usually life threatening, it isincredibly uncomfortable. An itchy red rash, swelling, and blisters are the primary indications that you’ve come into contact with urushiol, the irritating oil on poison ivy leaves.
How can you avoid this discomfort? Learn to recognize poison ivy so you can stay away from it! Poison ivy can be found in almost every state in the U.S., so chances are you’ve encountered it (hopefully, you didn’t touch it!). It can be hard to identify poison ivy because it grows in so many different forms; it can be a bush, a shrub, or even a climbing vine. The key is to look for three leaflets on one stem. In the spring, the leaves are reddish. They’ll appear green in the summer, and yellow, orange, or red in the fall. Leaf edges can be notched or smooth, so focus on the old saying: “Leaves of three, let it be!”
When you’re hiking or exploring wooded areas, stick to the path or trail and don’t wander off. Wear clothing that covers up areas of your body that might brush against the leaves. You can even tuck your socks into your pants for extra protection. If you have a pet who enjoys romping through the woods, make sure you hose her down before petting her; the oils can rub off on her fur and irritate your skin.
If you do come into contact with poison ivy, don’t touch the rash! You can spread the oil from one part of your body to another, so make sure to wash thoroughly. Most rashes don’t need medical treatment, but if your rash lasts for more than a couple of weeks, covers most of your body, or is so itchy that you can’t sleep, come to your local FastMed Urgent Care for some immediate relief.
Summer allergies can be one of the more annoying causes of sniffles and clogged sinuses during everyone’s favorite time of year. Luckily, FastMed has plenty of convenient locations and all kinds of great online help and information for your summertime fun and care. Allergies can cause a wide range of reactions; for some, it’s a mild nuisance, but for others it can cause serious distress. Knowing common triggers can help you avoid discomfort.
Below, you’ll find the most common types of summer allergens so you’ll be better prepared when heading outdoors or speaking with a physician or nurse about how you might better control your allergies. The basic forms tend to be mold, poisonous plants, stinging insects, pollen, and things we eat like seasonal fruits and vegetables. Let’s take a more detailed look in the infographic:
Summertime means summer fun in most households across America, and that means all of the classic warm weather activities like water sports, beach trips and theme parks, just to name a few. While these recreational pastimes are a lot of fun, they often take place in areas that are difficult to get help or first aid, and might even be several hours away from the nearest emergency service or hospital. This makes being prepared for heat- and sun-related illnesses vital to your family’s safety this summer.
Weather forecasters and health officials often use terms like “extreme” or “excessive” heat to describe weather conditions, but it’s important to understand that heat advisories are not simple warnings about bothersome heat or humidity and how they might affect your plans, they’re vital signals on how to stay safe in the hot weather. And of course, these precautions are even more significant when activities might be taking place far away from professional medical care, such as on a boat or a wilderness hike.
The science behind the summer heat wave
An increase in temperature is the obvious culprit behind many heat-related illnesses, but it isn’t that simple. A major reason behind summertime complications is the increase in humidity. As opposed to the drier winter, the summer is much more moist and humid in many regions. High humidity will cause individuals to feel much hotter than they would otherwise, and prevent the body’s cooling mechanisms such as sweating from working as efficiently as they should. While the summertime is more humid in general due to the climate, you will also see an uptick in humidity in the morning and shortly after a rain or thunderstorm.
Is the sun's radiation actually worse during the summer?
Even if temperatures remain relatively low in your area, the sun’s UV radiation tends to be much more powerful during the summer due to seasonal orbital shifts. The UV Index, released for every zip code in America by the National Weather Service, measures the amount of skin-damaging ultraviolet rays expected to reach Earth’s surface. Rated from 1-11+, the UV Index is a great way to know when to be extra prepared with sunscreen and other protective measures. Ultraviolet radiation penetrates many solid objects, so it’s always necessary to wear sunscreen if you’ll be outside.
Who is most at risk?
Young children have much more trouble regulating their body temperature compared to adults, and you’ll want to pay close attention to any children who will be outside in the summer heat. Also, there are types of medication which can increase sensitivity to the sun, or make it more difficult to stay hydrated; make sure you ask your doctor about any medications or complications that might need to be planned for. And let’s not forget our furry friends; many pets regular their body temperatures differently than humans, and it’s important to keep an eye on any animals that might be outside during a heat wave.
What are the most common heat-related illnesses?
Heat Rash - Skin irritation and blisters caused by sweating
Sunburn - Burns from skin exposure to the sun's rays
Heat cramps - Muscle pains and spasms from overheating
Heat exhaustion - Dehydration and fatigue from heavy sweating/exercise
Heat/Sun stroke - A medical emergency when body heat exceeds 105 degrees
What are some ways to prevent heat-related problems?
Stay hydrated. This means drinking lots of fluids, and the right kind. Steer clear of alcohol, and any coffees or teas that might have caffeine or extra sugar. Fruit juice can be a delicious beverage, but its high sugar content might not be the best option if water is available.
Eat for the heat. Eating small meals, low in protein, can lower your metabolic rate and internal temperature.
Wear loose clothing. This will protect your skin, and add a layer of protection for UV radiation. Loose clothing allows your skin to breathe and regular its own temperature.
Wear sunscreen. This should go without saying, but it’s always important to have sunscreen on if you’re going to be outside. Remember to apply 30 minutes before you’ll be in the sun, as this gives proper time for absorption. And don’t forget to reapply consistently and read your application directions. If you’ll be partaking in water sports or athletics, it’s likely a good idea to purchase sunscreen made to resist sweat and water.
Never leave a child in the car. Every year there are deaths from children being left in automobiles. Even if it’s only 70 or 80 degrees outside, a car can become superheated in no more than 30 minutes to an hour. And simply leaving the windows cracked won’t cut it.
The summer months are perhaps the most exciting time of year, with picnics, vacations, and fun events that simply don’t happen in the other seasons. But while there’s plenty of fun to be had all summer long, you have to be careful not to overindulge on the hot dogs and ice cream. But never fear! There are some inexpensive and easy ways to eat great this summer while staying healthy and attending all your favorite get-togethers. Follow the tips below from FastMed Urgent Care and make this a healthier summer to remember.
Eat vegetables that are in season
While all vegetables tend to be fairly healthy, the summer months allow Americans to eat a wide variety of vegetables that are actually “in season.” In-season produce has usually travelled a much shorter distance to reach your plate, and therefore hasn’t experienced as much nutrient breakdown. Some great summer-season vegetables are arugula, cucumbers, eggplant, hot peppers, kohlrabi, mushrooms, shallots, and zucchini.
Don’t forget protein
The medical profession hasn’t fully come to a consensus about ultra-heavy protein diets like paleo and the like, but most doctors recommend a hefty portion of protein in nearly everyone’s diet. This is important to keep in mind during the summer months when carbohydrates and sugary snacks seem to be much more plentiful. Protein-rich foods like meats, dairy, and oatmeal can be great options when summertime carbs like fries or potato chips are around.
Which proteins are best?
Lean, less-fatty meats like chicken, turkey, and other poultries are typically the healthiest sources of animal protein. Alternative game meats like deer, ostrich, and bison can be very lean, and are usually bred and farmed with more responsible methods since they often come from smaller family-owned farms. And don’t forget seafood! Fish can be extremely healthy and has many omega-3 fatty acids, although most doctors recommend eating fish only twice a week due to mercury levels. Shrimp and lobster can be low in fat and are healthy sources of protein as well. The idea is to stick to lean meats and forego the fattier cuts like beef and pork.
Grill, don’t fry
This one seems obvious, but it’s so hard to avoid fried foods in the summertime! Deep-fried foods might as well be the official food of summer fairs and carnivals. But you can still eat all of your favorite fried foods; just put them on the grill! Grilled food is significantly healthier than fried food in most cases, which almost always involves heavy oils. Grilling helps retain nutrients, and has significantly lower levels of trans fats and carbohydrates. Plus, who doesn’t love grilling out!?
Grill your veggies too!
One of the hottest trends right now (literally!) is to grill your vegetables. This is a great idea because it can be difficult to get enough fresh vegetables into your diet. Grilling vegetables makes them much more palatable and easier to consume in many cases—cooked veggies are often easier on the stomach—and children may be more likely to enjoy corn and zucchini if it is coming hot off the grill.
Eat fruits that HYDRATE
Nearly all fruit is healthy and contains lots of nutrients and antioxidants, but during the summer months, it’s important to stay hydrated when it’s hot and/or dry outside. Certain fruits, even very healthy ones, can be high in sugar and contain less moisture, making them less suited for a summer day or trip to the beach. However, fruits like cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew are all fantastic sources of nutrients andhydrating water. Stick with these if you can.
Eat this, not that
Instead of fresh lemonade, which contains loads of sugar, begin with newly popular flavored waters or lemon-flavored water. Instead of fried chicken, go with crab cakes or lobster. When out at a bar or nightclub, eat veggie sticks instead of nuts or chips. And if you want a cocktail? Go with a fresh mojito instead of frozen/processed mixed drinks. And of course, for the summer classic, a milkshake, just go with a fruit smoothie and yogurt instead! You can have all the fun and still stay healthy this summer.
For great recipes to try, check out FastMed’s recipe page! We’re always posting healthy, delicious new foods that are easy to make at home.