Sunday, February 25, 2018

Say No! to Summer Health Woes

June 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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summer woes

Summer is an exciting time of year for young and old alike. It’s the season of vacations, with long days spent outdoors enjoying the mood-lifting warm sunshine. Before you take advantage of all summer has to offer, however,be sure your mood isn’t soured by some of summer’s most common health woes. Being prepared and knowledgeable about treatment will help take out the sting or the burn and return you to the fun.

Seasickness

Seasickness can quickly turn an excursion on the water into a miserable experience. Seasickness happens when the body, the inner ear, and the eyes send conflicting signals to the brain.For example, if you’re below deck on a boat, your eyes are telling you the room isn’t moving while your inner ear senses motion. This conflicting message may result in dizziness, light-headedness, and nausea. As prevention is better than treatment,try these tips:

  •    Stay on deck in a shady spot and face forward, focusing on the horizon.
  •    Keep your head still, while resting against a seat back.
  •    Eat light; avoid spicy and greasy foods and alcohol.
  •     Antihistamines are commonly used to prevent sea sickness. Frequently recommended over-the-counter antihistamines include Antivert, Bonine, Dramamine, and Benadryl.
  •     The adhesive patch, Scopolamine (Transderm Scop), is available by prescription. The patch is applied behind the ear a few hours before traveling and provides 72-hour protection.
  •      Mix a half teaspoon of ginger powder in a glass of water and drink it 20 minutes before heading out to sea.

If you find yourself becoming nauseated, try the following:

  •     Get some fresh air. If you’re below deck, go on the upper deck and sit toward the middle of the boat where you’ll feel less movement.
  •      Eat a few dry crackers.
  •      Sip a clear, carbonated beverage.

Sunburn

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection) with an SPF of at least 30. Apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before heading out and reapply every two hours and after swimming and sweating. Apply sunscreen even if it’s cloudy out, and don’t forget to apply protection to the “forgotten” areas: ears, tops of feet, hair part (best option: wear a hat), back of neck, and lips.

If you’ve gotten singed by the sun, the following may help alleviate the pain:

  •    Apply cool compresses, such as a towel dampened with cool water.
  •     Take an anti-inflammatory medicine containing ibuprofen.
  •     Apply aloe vera lotion or hydrocortisone cream to affected skin.

Jellyfish Stings

As anyone who’s been stung can attest, a jellyfish sting is extremely painful! If you are stung, don’t try to use your hands to remove any tentacles that are stuck; use tweezers or the edge of a credit card to scrape them off. Rinse the area with vinegar (5 percent acetic acid) for at least 30 seconds to help deactivate the stingers. If you don’t have vinegar you can use isopropyl alcohol. (Avoid fresh water as it may reactivate the stingers — ouch!) Apply a mild hydrocortisone cream or take an oral antihistamine (such as Benadryl) to relieve itching and swelling. If you are stung by a jellyfish on the face, mouth, eyes, or genital area or if you have difficulty breathing or swallowing, always seek emergency medical care once on shore.

Poison Ivy

If you’re exploring along the shore, look out for the green, pointed poison ivy leaves that hang from a stem in groups of three —they are notorious for causing maddening itching! If you come into contact with poison ivy, immediately rinse your skin with warm, soapy water (you may have about 10 minutes before the oils absorb into the skin). Wash your clothing and everything else (like the towel) that may have come into contact with the oil.

If you do develop a poison ivy rash, find relief by doing the following:

  •    Apply calamine lotion or corticosteroid cream to help control the itch. Cool compresses can also help.
  •   When you get home, soak in a cool bath containing an oatmeal-based bath product.
  •    Don’t scratch! Leave blisters alone.

Heat-Related Illnesses

Don’t become overcome by high temperatures —take these important steps to avoid heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

  •   Avoid strenuous outdoor activity from 10:00am to 2:00pm.
  •  Wear a hat and light-colored, loose-fitting clothes.
  •  Drink plenty of water.
  •  Stay in a cool, shady spot on the boat.

Headaches

Rising temperatures, increased humidity, bright sunshine, and changes in barometric pressure may result in headaches (some summer foods may also be a contributing factor). If your head is throbbing, try the following for relief:

  •  Take over-the-counter medication recommended for headaches.
  •  Rest in a quiet, shady area.
  •  Apply cold compresses to your forehead or neck.

Bruising

Physical activity on the boat may result in bruises.Follow these steps to treat minor bruises:

  •   Rest and elevate the affected area.
  •   Placing a towel or cloth between the ice and your skin, apply ice for about 15 minutes, several times a day (continue at home for 24-48 hours).
  •   For pain relief, take an over-the-counter pain reliever containing acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains sound like the same thing, but they’re different. A sprain is a stretch or tear of a ligament (commonly in the ankle), while a strain is an injury of a muscle or tendon (usually in the lower back and in the hamstring muscle in the back of your thigh). Symptoms of a sprain include pain, swelling, and bruising. Symptoms of a strain include pain, swelling, and muscle spasms. Treatment for minor sprains and strains are similar and include:

  •   Icing the area as soon as possible to minimize swelling.
  •   In cases of severe sprain or strain, the area may need to be immobilized with a brace or splint.
  •   Taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen helps to provide pain relief.

This primer is not meant to be a substitute for medical help. Be sure to know the location of your vessel’s first aid kit and have a medical guide for emergencies onboard. If you aren’t capable of handling the emergency, or symptoms worsen, use your VHF radio or cell phone to seek immediate medical help.

By Laura A. Magnifico

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