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Preventing summer-related illnesses

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Medicine Cabinet

PAGASA has held off on declaring the official start of the summer season because of the recurrence of the northeast monsoon or hanging amihan. The weather bureau said that summer would likely begin by the end of March or early April. This early, however, temperatures have started to soar.

With many schools nationwide set to go on their annual summer break, it is definitely the best time to frolic in the sun, or head to the beach. But keep in mind that summer, with its high temperatures and humid conditions, can put people at risk for certain diseases and conditions. Historically, Metro Manila could post a temperature as high as 38.5°C. In Tuguegarao City, the country recorded the hottest temperature ever at 42.2°C in May 1969.

Deaths or illnesses related to heat happen when one’s body temperature rises faster than it can cool itself down, explained the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

With this, the Department of Health (DoH) offers tips to prevent summer-related illnesses. Heat stroke, for example, occurs when the body is unable to control its temperature and the sweating mechanism fails. Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include warm flushed skin, dizziness, weakness, headache, high body temperature (41°C), rapid heartbeat, convulsion, and loss of consciousness.

In preventing heat stroke, one must limit the time spent outdoors during the time of the day when temperatures could be high. It is important to drink plenty of water and avoid tea, coffee, soda, and alcohol that may hasten dehydration.

One may wear a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved clothing, and sunglasses that provide ultraviolet protection. Ideally, schedule outdoor activities early in the morning or later in the afternoon when it is cooler.

First aid for heat stroke is to move the person to the shade or indoors, and lay the person down and elevate their legs. If the person is able to drink liquids, give him sips of cool water. Apply cool water to the skin, and fan the person. It will also help to put ice packs under the armpits, and on wrists, ankles, and groin. After giving first aid, bring the person immediately to the hospital.

The hot and humid conditions of summer also promote the growth of bacteria which hastens food spoilage. Eating spoiled food can cause serious illness, with symptoms that include vomiting and diarrhea. When preparing food, practice cleanliness and good hygiene. Food must also be cooked thoroughly and stored in the refrigerator as much as possible.

Another common condition during summer is conjunctivitis or sore eyes. It is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, clear tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and the white part of the eyeball, the CDC said. The four main causes are viruses, bacteria, allergens, and irritants.

In preventing sore eyes, one must wash one’s hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water. It would be wise to avoid touching one’s eyes, and use your own towels, eye drops, makeup and applicators, sunglasses, or eyeglasses. One may wear eyeglasses or sunglasses on windy days to protect one’s eyes from foreign particles.

Summer is on the horizon and one of the best ways to enjoy it is to keep healthy.

 

Teodoro B. Padilla is the executive director of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP). Medicine Cabinet is a PHAP column that aims to promote awareness on public health and health care-related issues. PHAP and its member companies represent the research-based pharmaceutical and health care industry.

medicinecabinet@phap.org.ph