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10 Health Woes Summer Brings
It’s summer time! We somehow manage to survive freezing winters by thinking and dreaming about the beautifully warm summer weather.
But the heat of summer can bring out more than just bikini’s and flip flops. It also releases microbes and bacteria and other ugly bugs that can really put a damper on your fun.
Among the things that tend to rise to the surface when the temperatures soar, some are mild, yet annoying, while others are downright deadly. Check out our list of the top 10 dangers the summer weather brings.
1. The Hantavirus
This is a virus that is carried by rats and mice. It’s rare, but Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome can be deadly. People spend more time outside in the summer. So do the rodents. When you come in contact through the droppings of rodents that have become infected, then you, too, could become infected. Take care especially when sweeping or cleaning out places where rodents have made their homes. This virus is airborne and when you clean or sweep you could be inhaling the virus. Be especially careful to keep your home, cabin, workshops, and other places free of rodents.
2. Valley Fever
Coccidiodomycosis, more commonly called valley fever, is a potentially life threating infection caused by a natural fungus that lives in soil. You can become infected by breathing in the spores from these fungi when the wind blows it into the air.
This fungus grows quickly in the soil after a heavy rain, and then disperses itself into the air during hot, dry conditions, especially on windy days. Therefore, most infections are diagnosed when the weather is hot and dry, particularly during a drought.
Most of this fungus lives in California and Arizona, but there have been cases in south Washington State.
Since you cannot see these spores as they fly through the air, it’s difficult to avoid them. Try to stay inside on hot windy days. If you live or visit these areas and find you have flu-like symptoms within the next two or three months, see your doctor. There are tests to confirm the presence of this fungus and you will need to take antifungal medication.
3. Kidney stones
Yep. Due to dehydration, it’s easy to develop kidney stones during the summer months. When you sweat your body loses water as well as produces less urine. This allows for the minerals in the kidneys to form stones. Drink plenty of water during the hot summer months, even more so than you normally do. Find out how to naturally alkalize water at home.
4. West Nile Virus
You’ve most likely heard of this one. Every summer there are warnings about avoiding mosquitoes because of this virus. Infection rates seem to start rising in June in America, and they peak somewhere around the middle of August.
Most people who become infected have no symptoms but some will come down with headaches, fever, and nausea. Approximately 1 percent of infected individuals will develop serious complications such as paralysis, meningitis, or encephalitis. About 10 percent of the people in this group will die from their infections.
So avoid becoming infected by using insect repellent, insect repellent clothing, and wearing long sleeves. A mosquito net over the bed is an extremely effective way of keeping yourself free of mosquito bites while you sleep. They are inexpensive and a great investment considering the possible alternatives.
5. Brain Eating Amoeba
No, this isn’t a science fiction movie of the week, it’s real. A heat loving microscopic amoeba, naegleria fowleri, lives in warm fresh water locations like lakes, rivers, even natural hot springs. It can be found in soil occasionally. Almost all cases of infection have happened during the summer months.
When people get infected when they swim in warm, fresh water. This parasite enters the body via the nose, then travels to the brain and causes a deadly inflammation of the brain, including the membrane that surrounds the brain.
Although this infection is rare (only 31 reported cases in the past 10 years) but it’s rare for an infected person to survive.
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6. Lyme Disease
This bacterium is carried by deer ticks. Ticks, like fleas, are most active in the warm months of spring, summer, and early fall. They love shady, humid environments. Ticks tend to be found in tall grass, lawns, gardens, under trees in the forest, in woodpiles, and in the crevices of old stone walls.
Protect yourself from ticks and Lyme disease by avoiding walking in places where ticks live, inspect your body for ticks if you should visit the woodland areas, and use insect repellants.
7. Poison ivy, oak, and sumac
Almost 90 percent of us are allergic to the oil that is the sap of plants we call poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Most of us come into contact with these plants in the summer when we are enjoying the great outdoors. Most people have a painful rash and itching. Luckily, these symptoms can be treated with calamine lotion and over the counter antihistamines.
You don’t have to actually touch these plants, either. If you go walking with your dog and the dog rubs up against this plant, the sap is now on his fur and when you pet him, you will transfer this irritating compound to your skin. So if you think your dog has come into contact with these plants, wash him thoroughly. It will also help you if you learn what these plants look like so you can avoid them.
8. Ear Infections
Swimmer’s ear is also called otitis externa. This is a very common infection that involves the outer ear canal. This happens when natural organisms that live in the water get inside your ear canal. Be sure to dry your ears after swimming or wear a swimming cap. If you swim frequently, don’t clean out that ear wax, it naturally protects your ears from infections.
Excessive heat will kill more than 650 Americans every year and sends thousands more to local emergency rooms. Does that number sound trivial? Picture this, between 1979 and 2003 more people will die from hyperthermia than from earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and tornados combined.
Hyperthermia is caused by extreme heat when our bodies absorb more heat than we can get rid of. This leads to extremely high body temperatures that require medical intervention.
On extremely hot summer days, stay inside in air conditioned rooms when possible. Stay well hydrated and never leave children or pets in parked cars for even one minute.
10. Hand, foot, and mouth disease
Don’t confuse this one with hoof and mouth disease! This is a viral infection that involves humans, not sheep and horses. Although it often affects children 5 and under, it does happen to adults as well. Infected persons suffer from mouth sores, fevers, and skin rashes.
There is no vaccine for this virus but practicing good personal hygiene such as disinfecting common household surfaces, toys, and washing your hands can greatly lower your risk of becoming infected.