‘Tis the season: the season of cookouts, beaches, and generally getting out and about after hiding from Pittsburgh’s winter and spring skies! From art festivals and gallery crawls, to baseball games, to local trails, there’s many reasons to get outdoors this season. But, with those outdoor adventures come an increased need to be vigilant about our health.
The reality is that even though it gets us out of our chairs and up and about, being outdoors presents its own set of health risks. Because of this, our medical team here at our Genesis Medical practices want each of you to always keep health and safety in mind as you make your plans. The following four things are particularly important to remember in our experience:
- Stock up on sunscreen. Sunscreen is a serious must, no matter how long you plan on being outdoors. Sunscreen gets neglected for a number of reasons - including the fact that Pittsburgh offers cloudy skies that “protect” our skin. Except, they don’t! The American Academy of Dermatologists says that up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds. Because of this, experts often say that there’s no such thing as a sunless day. So to prevent skin damage - and protect yourself from premature aging or even skin cancer - you’ll want to keep your sunscreen on hand at all times and reapply it every 2 to 3 hours, and make sure it (and your chapstick!) has an SPF of at least 30.
- Beware of bugs and ticks. While not all bug and tick bites are dangerous, bug bites can get infected and cause serious reactions - while ticks can carry Lyme Disease, an illness that is treatable in the early stages...but not in the later ones. With rising temperatures encouraging bugs to come out of hiding, and Lyme Disease becoming a more likely health issue in Allegheny County, protecting yourself against bug bites and actively monitoring and checking for ticks is going to be a key part of a healthy summer season.
- Watch out for the heat. It hasn’t felt like it just yet, but with summer weather comes higher temperatures - sometimes even extreme temperatures. And as we head outside to enjoy ourselves or even workout outdoors, we’re putting more stress on our bodies than normal. Higher temperatures combined with an active lifestyle can potentially raise your body’s core temperature to harmful levels. And if you don’t drink enough fluids or exercise too long, your body’s natural cooling systems could fail and you could find yourself suffering from a range of heat-related illnesses. Fortunately, as long as you’re careful, there’s no reason to fret and avoid going outside in the heat. To prepare and know what to watch for, we recommend reading up on the symptoms of heat-related illnesses. Whenever possible, exercise early in the morning or in the evening, when temperatures aren’t as high. Finally, always bring plenty of fluids to your workouts. Speaking of fluids...we have one last tip for the season:
- Start drinking more water. While dehydration is a potential health risk year-round, it’s more likely to strike during the summer. With temperatures rising and many of us spending more time outdoors - where we sweat and lose water at a faster pace - it’s important to drink plenty of water to reduce the chances of getting dehydrated. Remember, your body needs to stay properly hydrated to function properly, meaning that even mild dehydration can potentially interfere with basic organ system functions if it’s not addressed. Not drinking enough water can also lead to potentially life-threatening conditions such as heatstroke, at which point your core temperature begins climbing since your body can no longer cool itself off on its own. Fortunately, it’s extremely easy to prevent dehydration and the problems that come with it: just drink plenty of fluids - water is always best! - and stay out of the sun whenever possible, especially between 10am and 3pm, when the heat is at its highest.
The good news is that there’s no reason you can’t keep going out and enjoying your summer, as long as you take steps to ensure that you’re staying as healthy and safe as you can be. Remember, nothing puts a damper on summer fun like a hospital visit - and these four recommendations will go a long way in keeping you happy and healthy!
Do you have questions or concerns about your health and how summer-related factors may affect it? Please don’t hesitate to contact your Genesis Medical team and arrange an appointment to speak with us. We are more than happy to help develop a care and prevention plan that will let you live up the season to the fullest, while still meeting your healthcare needs!