10 ailments/injuries to avoid this summer

July 19, 2018 | by Jennifer McNulty, M.D.
Categories: Healthy Driven Moms

Summertime is all about being outside and enjoying the warm weather as much as possible. Parents and kids alike hit the playgrounds, parks, bike paths, hiking trails, pools and beaches. And it’s all fun and games — until someone gets hurt.

As your kids enjoy these carefree summer days, keep these 10 common summer ailments/injuries top of mind:

  1. Water safety – Drowning is the number two cause of accidental death in children ages 15 and under. Keep your eyes on your child at all times while they’re in and around water. Use proper safety devices and designate a pool watcher during parties. Teach your child not to run near a pool and to always ask permission before going in the water. Learn how to keep your kids safe in the water.

  2. Heat exhaustion / heat stroke – A heat index at or above 90°F can put your health at risk. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers steps to protect children from heat-related illness. Minimize time in the heat, take regular cool-off breaks and stay hydrated! Encourage your child to drink water regularly — even before she/he asks for it. Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these symptoms.

  3. Sunburns – Keep your child lathered in sunscreen — even on cloudy days — to prevent sunburn. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is (at least) SPF 30. Apply it 15-30 minutes before going outdoors, every two hours, and after swimming or sweating. Have your child wear a hat and sunglasses with UV protection, and limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV rays are strongest. Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight.

  4. Skin rashes – Summer months can lead to itchy, irritated skin — and sometimes skin reactions and infections. Poison ivy is a common burning, intensely itchy rash that can cause redness, swelling and blisters. The AAP offers ways to help prevent, identify and soothe common summertime skin rashes, including poison ivy, impetigo, swimmer’s itch and ringworm.

  5. Bites and stings – Insect bites and stings are common in summer. Unfortunately, some mosquitos and ticks can spread disease (e.g., Zika virus, Lyme disease). Protective clothing and insect repellents are your best line of defense. Check your child’s head and body for ticks after being outdoors. Have an emergency care plan in place if your child has a known allergy.

  6. Injuries (cuts/scrapes, sprains/strains, breaks) – As kids are playing outside, innocent fun can result in sprains, strains and broken bones. Make sure your child wears proper protective gear for each activity, including a proper-fitting helmet at all times when riding a bike or scooter, rollerblading/rollerskating, and skateboarding. Be extra careful with trampolines and bounce houses.

  7. Concussions – A concussion may result from something as simple as your child falling off a bike and hitting his/her head on the sidewalk. Know how to recognize, respond to, and prevent a concussion. All concussions are serious, so never ignore a head injury, no matter how minor.

  8. Food poisoning / BBQ safety – Whether you’re picnicking on a summer day or enjoying an outdoor meal on a warm summer night, pre-cookout prep and smart food handling can prevent a lot of problems. Always wash your hands before/after cooking. Use a cooler, don’t leave food out for more than an hour, and use a food thermometer to ensure meats are cooked properly. Also, children should be closely supervised at all times around fires and hot barbecues!

  9. Seasonal allergies – Summertime can increase allergy symptoms in kids with seasonal allergies to pollen or mold. If you notice your child is sneezing often, has itchy, watery eyes, or nasal congestion, and the cold-like symptoms last for more than a week, it could be seasonal allergies. Ask your doctor about how to treat it, including with over-the-counter allergy meds. Should you get your child allergy tested?

  10. Summer colds and other viruses – Colds can strike in the summer too. Remind your child not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth, where colds and viruses enter the body. Teach them to cover their mouth when sneezing or coughing, and encourage your child to wash their hands regularly and properly, as good handwashing is the first line of defense against germs.

It’s great to be able to spend time outdoors in the summer and enjoy warm-weather activities. Just make sure to take the necessary precautions so your family has a fun — and safe —summer.

Jennifer McNulty, M.D., is a pediatric emergency medicine physician and medical director of pediatrics at Edward Hospital. Read her profile.

Learn more about pediatric emergency care at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Our board-certified providers ready to treat your non-emergency urgencies. We offer Walk-In Clinics for minor coughs and fevers and Immediate Care Centers for sprains and stitches. No appointment necessary.

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