Great Solutions to Common Summer Problems
-Written by Christain Bramwell, MD
-This article is not meant to diagnose or treat any disease. It is an informational article, if you are concerned, please see your primary doctor.
Summer is here! The weather is warm, charcoal is in the air, and it is time to use those vacation and sick days. This is the best time of year in my opinion, but there are a lot of common things that people forget to do while enjoying this time. Part of my job as Family Medicine physician is prevention.
This article is to prevent all of my readers from some of the hidden dangers of June, July, and August from the sun to your favorite swimming spot.
6 Great Solutions to Some Common Problems
1. Eating Bad at BBQ’s
I am very conflicted when I go to BBQ’s when it comes to eating. I spent the previous 3 months eating right and working out, am I really trying to ruin this physique for smoky pulled pork sandwiches, ice cold beers, and my aunt’s famous macaroni and cheese?
That is a HELL YES!
BBQ’s are one of the best parts of summer, who does not love going out with friends and family to eat good food and socialize. The problem is that the daily calorie limit on average is 2,000 calories. If you are doing a BBQ correctly, you will blow past that number at the event. Also, you know there aren’t exactly low calorie or light options choices unless you are doing the grilling yourself.
Solution: Do Not Snack, Only Eat a Certain Amount of Food or Beverages
Have a list of 3-4 foods that you are going to eat when you go. For me, its hamburger, pulled pork, 3 beers, with macaroni and cheese. Unless there are fruit or vegetable options, I will not eat ANY other foods there.
Most people fall into the trap of snacking on things like cookies, sodas, or chips that just add on the unnecessary calories. This takes some self-control but it is worth it if you want to keep your summer physique.
2. Hiding Your Belly by the Pool or Beach
Talking about summer bodies, I still have a bit of a gut. Nowhere as bad in the past was (I a pack of Kit-Kats away from 300lbs in my late teens) but definitely no six pack. Unless you are Channing Tatum or Jenifer Lopez, everyone is self-conscious about themselves when they have to bear skin. Luckily I have the solutions for my ladies and fellas.
Solution: Men- Wear an Unbuttoned Short Sleeve & Women- Get a Shape Fitting Swimsuit
For my fellas, do not feel pressure to take your shirt off every time you are near a body of water. Instead, you can look fashionable and cover up with the right short sleeve button down. It both can help prevent sunburn and cover up that gut.
For my beautiful ladies, it is all about finding the swimsuit for your figure. Based on your pear, apple, hourglass, or whatever shape you have, is the basis for what swimsuit that you choose.
Another tip: If you want to highlight a part of your body, use bright and warm colors. If you want to hide a part of your body, use dark and cooler colors.
3. Preventing Sunburn
This goes for EVERYONE! No matter how dark your complexion is, it does not make you immune from the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. This is a type of radiation that can cause damage to our DNA if we do not protect ourselves.
Possible consequences include permanent scarring of the skin and the development of skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 1 out of 5 people will develop skin cancer in their lives.
Plus sunburns are one of the least fun things in life up there with taxes and people who talk in a movie theater.
Solution: Wear Proper Sunscreen and Clothing
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, your sunscreen should be 1) water resistant 2) broad spectrum 3) at least SPF 30. You should apply this every time you go out, especially during the summer where you are out the most. Also remember that water reflects the UV light, so watch out. Another recommendation is to wear clothes that cover up the skin but are light and easy to breathe in.
4. Having Proper Eye Wear
Even though you are not looking at the sun (at least I hope you aren’t) our eyes are at risk for getting damaged. It is not good enough to wear that pair of sunglasses you got for free from the credit union stand at that pool party you went to. Picking the proper eye wear is a must.
Those same UV rays that can give you skin cancer can also damage your eyes. According to the American Optometric Association, UV light puts our eyes at risk for photokeratitis (pretty much a sunburn of the eye). This can cause the eye to be painful, gritty, sensitive to light, and cause tearing.
Solution: Wear Appropriate Sunglasses
The American Optometric Association has a few guidelines that sunglasses must have to protect your eyes. 1) Block 99%-100% of UV light 2) Block 75%-90% of visible light (if you can see your eyes in the mirror, those sunglasses are not good enough) 3) must be uniformly dark.
As long as they meet these three standards, you are good to go!
5. Swimming Safely
Do not be afraid to go into the water (unless you live in 1975 New England, look it up). However both fresh and salt water have their own inherent risks besides drowning. For fresh water, it is a prime environment for bacteria and other microbes to flourish in. Swimming in your favorite watering hole could give you a viral infection like Coxsackievirus or a bacteria like Cyanobacteria.
Oceans have dangerous marine life like jellyfish and sharks. Although both are rare, they are most likely to happen at the shore depending on which shore you are at. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, rip tides cause 80% of all lifeguard rescues. These are dangerous currents that flow away from the shore that pull people into the ocean.
Solutions: Read Signs, Make Sure You are being Watched, and Go with the Flow
There are signs that warn people if there are dangerous animals in the shore of a beach or if there hazardous runoff or unsafe swimming conditions for lakes and rivers. Some rivers and lakes can be next to a dump site or even worse a pasture or farmland, yuck!
These conditions can lead to those water bodies being contaminated with dangerous bacteria.
Never go swimming if there is not a certified lifeguard around. Particularly if there are young children around.
If you are swept into a rip tide, DO NOT FIGHT IT. Instead swim parallel to the shore until you are out then swim back to shore.
6. Staying Cool from Heat Stroke
Drinking water is the key to success
While his music can be hit or miss, he got this right. Humans are made of 60% water believe it or not. Because of water, our body is able to do all the necessary chemical reactions needed for life.
However too much heat mixed with dehydration can cause our body temperature to go as high as 107 F.
The most common cases are the athelete who is training outside or an elderly person walking on a blistering summer day. At first comes dizziness and headaches. If it goes on for hours it can lead to fainting, kidney failure, and organ damage.
Solution: Water and Shade
If you know you are going to be going out in the hot heat, make sure you are getting enough fluids. I recommend at least one extra liter of fluids (2-3 water bottles).
By fluids I mean WATER!
No alcohol or caffeine as they can dehydrate you even faster. Also wear light loose fitting clothes to disperse the heat. If you do notice headaches, dizziness, or fatigue please get to a cool or shaded place and stay there for at least 30 mins.
If you take my advice, you can turn your great summer into a safer summer. Remember these tips and contact me on my platforms for more advice.