Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Top Tips for a Healthy Summer
Take a Smart Approach to Summer Safety
Ahhhh…summertime. Time to relax and enjoy. But it also means it's time to take precautions against the sun's harmful rays and excessive heat. Whether you spend your summer vacation in a tropical area, at home, or at the beach or a lake house, keep safety first. Here are the season's top tips for staying healthy during an active summer, home or away.
Drink Up the H2O
For a healthy summer, drink plenty of water. "Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, which can cause dehydration," says Jessica Bartfield, MD, a specialist in internal medicine and bariatrics at the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care in Melrose Park, Ill. "Fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables are also a great way to keep you hydrated, and they also provide essential vitamins and minerals." Summer safety double-check: You may be dehydrated if your skin tents (when you pinch your skin, it forms a ridge) or your urine is dark.
Exercise With Caution
Especially when enjoying an active summer, make sure you drink more water than usual, Dr. Bartfield advises. If you exercise outdoors during a heat wave, do it early in the morning when temperatures are lower and the sun is less intense. Hot temperatures can also bring on painful muscle spasms called heat cramps. "When you drink lots of water but don't replace salt that's lost through perspiration, muscles can cramp up," she says. "Try drinking an electrolyte solution, such as a non-caffeinated sports drink, to ease cramps."
Deepti Shivakumar, MD, a family physician with Loyola University Health System and Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, Ill., warns that if you're older, have chronic medical conditions, or have a sensitive respiratory system, you're more prone to breathing difficulties in high heat and humidity. To ensure ahealthy summer, he advises staying in air conditioning and taking cool showers. Wear loose cotton clothing, too, as a comfortable summer-safety step.
For all the Epp, CEp, PCT, HCP, VP Take more time to be in the shade.
Don't forget about keeping your eyes in good health during an active summer. For summer safety, wear sunglasses that protect not only the lens, cornea, and other parts of your eye, but the eyelid and surrounding skin. "Choose sunglasses that block 99 percent to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays, and select a large lens or wraparound style for best coverage," Dr. Shivakumar says. "Some contact lenses offer UV protection, but they don't cover the entire sensitive eye area, so you should still wear sunglasses."
Don't Get a "Base" Tan
Put summer safety first when it comes to your skin. There's no such thing as a "base" tan, and getting one will certainly not protect you from the sun's UV rays, says Richard Bezozo, MD, president of MoleSafe in Millburn, N.J., a digital imaging technology that tests moles for melanoma. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 90 percent of melanomas, the most deadly form of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to UV light radiation, which comes from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. When in the sun, whether you're having an active summer or just taking a walk, be sure to wear sunscreen.
Minimize Sun Exposure
Have a healthy vacation by avoiding the sun during its most powerful hours. The sun's UV rays are the strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Instead, go shopping, have lunch, or partake in other fun vacation festivities, Dr. Bezozo advises. If you want to hang out at the beach or enjoy a daylounging at the pool, consider renting a cabana or bringing a large umbrella to help shade you from the sun for prolonged hours.
Protect Your Skin Every Day
Another way to keep your skin protected is to wear a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. For summer safety, apply the sunscreen 20 minutes beforegoing outdoors and reapply every one-and-a-half to two hours. "Don't forget that you need sunscreen even on cloudy days," Bezozo says. Approximately 50 percent to 80 percent of UV rays penetrate through the clouds. You can also reduce your risk of skin cancer by wearing a hat, UV-blocking sunglasses, lip balm with an SPF, and protective clothing like long sleeves and pants.
Beware of Critters
Bugs thrive in warm climates. When you're having an active summer outdoors, protect yourself from bites, stings, and infections by wearing an insect repellent that contains the common ingredient N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, or DEET, (30 percent to 50 percent) or picaridin (up to 15 percent). This is a must for summer safety whenever you're outdoors in areas where disease-carrying insects are active, even in your own backyard, Shivakumar says.
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