Summer is upon us and it is getting warmer each day. Summer can be a nice time for enjoying the outdoors, family and the nice weather.
While summer has it's perks, it can also be dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken to ensure safety and hydration while enjoying this favorite season.
Dr. Martha Wafer, Minden Family Physician, wants to remind us that everyone is at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees, but the elderly and the very young are most susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses.
Most heat-related illnesses occur from staying out in the heat too long or exercising too much for your age and physical condition.
A few signs of heat-related illnesses include nausea, dizziness, flushed or pale skin, heavy sweating and headaches.
Tips for staying cool and safe this summer:
Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun's energy. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and UV protective sunglasses.
Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician. Have a beverage with you at all times, and sip or drink frequently. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink.
Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid high-protein foods, which increase metabolic heat.
Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4 and 7 a.m. Remember that the sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Stay indoors and in shade when possible. If air-conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine or consider visiting a mall, movie theater or other cool public place. Also cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun.
Be a good neighbor. During heat waves, check in on elderly residents in your neighborhood and those who do not have air conditioning.
Remember that UV rays bounce off of sand, snow, concrete and water
Keep very young children (6 months or less) out of the sun
Provide complete sunscreen coverage for your skin (including neck, ears, and lips)
Sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher should be applied liberally and evenly over all exposed areas
Apply sunscreen before going outdoors and reapply often, especially reapply sunscreen after swimming, perspiring, and toweling off.
According to the Sun Safety Alliance, people of all races can burn – no matter who you are or where you live. It makes no difference whether you're Irish, African-American, Hispanic, Asian or Native American.
Some people, however, may be at higher risk than others. Having one or more of the following risk factors could increase your risk for developing skin cancer:
Spending a great deal of time in the sun, especially during childhood
Having fair skin that easily burns or freckles
Having had severe burns from the sun, tanning beds or lamps, x-rays or radiation
Living in the Sun Belt or higher elevations
Having a family history of certain types of skin cancer
Having an immune system weakened for any reason
Appearance of moles
Dr. Wafer recommends performing monthly self-examinations. This could improve your chances of detecting skin cancer early.
The good news is that skin cancer can be cured if found and treated early.
The following is a checklist to help guide you in performing a self-examination. Sun Safety Alliance strongly suggests that you monitor your skin for any possible changes or new developments, and make note of these occurrences to discuss with your doctor at your next visit.
The ABCDE rule is a quick and helpful guide for detecting the usual signs of skin cancer. It is vital to monitor your skin and contact your doctor about any spots that match the following descriptions:
A- Asymmetry: Normal moles or freckles are completely symmetrical. If you were to draw a line through a normal spot, you would have two symmetrical halves. In cases of skin cancer, spots will not look the same on both sides.
B- Border: A mole or spot with blurry and/or jagged edges.
C- Color: A mole that is more than one hue is suspicious and needs to be evaluated by a doctor. Normal spots are usually one color. This can include lightening or darkening of the mole.
D- Diameter: If it is larger than a pencil eraser (about 1/4 inch or 6mm), it needs to be examined by a doctor. This is includes areas that do not have any other abnormalities (color, border, asymmetry).
E- Elevation: Elevation means the mole is raised above the surface and has an uneven surface.
Self Evaluation Check List Breakdown:
Front of Body- In front of a full-length mirror, inspect the front of your body. Make sure to check your neck, chest, legs and genitals.
Side and underarms- Raise your arms and inspect both sides of your body making sure to check your underarms.
Arms and fingers- With your elbows bent, examine the front and back of your arms, elbows, hands, fingers and fingernails.
Feet and toes- Examine the tops and bottom of your feet, toes and toenails.
Back of body- With your back to the mirror and holding a hand mirror, check the back of your body, including the back of your neck, shoulders, legs and buttocks.
Scalp and face- Inspect your scalp and face.