Summer is a time of vacations and beach holidays, where many people enjoy its refreshing atmosphere. However, with these high temperatures, our bodies are exposed to many health challenges. The body becomes more susceptible to various health problems such as infectious diseases, food poisoning, sunburn, heat stress, dehydration, diarrhea, and other health issues that pose a significant risk to the elderly, infants, and young children in particular.
Therefore, it is important to adopt healthy habits that protect the body from these problems and maintain good health in the summer, including:
Avoiding direct exposure to sunlight
It is important to avoid going out and direct exposure to sunlight, especially during peak hours in the afternoon. Prolonged exposure to the sun can lead to sunburn and heat stress.
When the temperature is high, our bodies try to cool us down, but with limited capacity. As a result, we may start to feel nauseous, experience headaches, or have difficulty breathing.
We become at risk of heat stroke, which can cause damage to the brain, kidneys, or muscles.
It is important to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day during the summer to keep the body hydrated and prevent dehydration, which increases the chances of heat stress and sunstroke.
Ensure that drinking water is safe and free from waterborne infections which can cause stomach and intestinal inflammation.
Maintaining a healthy diet
Choose a healthy and balanced diet that includes fruits and water-rich vegetables such as watermelon, cucumber, cantaloupe, peaches, strawberries, and other fresh foods that provide the body with fluids.
Furthermore, it is important to include whole grains and healthy proteins that supply the body with essential vitamins and minerals while reducing the consumption of fatty and sugary foods.
Reducing the consumption of caffeinated beverages
It is advisable to reduce the consumption of carbonated beverages and stimulants like tea and coffee as much as possible because they contain caffeine, which is a diuretic, as the summer’s high temperatures cause the body to lose fluids faster, which can lead to dehydration and headaches.
Wearing protective clothing
It is preferable to wear lightweight cotton clothing in light colours that allow for sweat evaporation, maintain moderate body temperature, and avoid dark colours that absorb heat. Furthermore, wearing hats and sunglasses is recommended for extra protection.
It is necessary to apply sunscreen half an hour before going out and reapply it every two hours during periods spent in sunny areas or at the beach.
Regular exercise has a positive impact on physical and mental health. Therefore, it is important to maintain sufficient physical activity even during the summer.
Some activities can be done indoors or in sports facilities to avoid high temperatures, or they can be performed in the early morning or evening. Examples of beneficial activities include swimming, cycling, walking, and others.
Ensuring food safety
Avoid consuming outside food or food sold on the streets during the summer. Make sure that uncovered food does not stay in normal room conditions for more than two hours, as it can promote bacterial growth and cause food poisoning.
It is also important to be cautious when using cutting boards for vegetables and meats and keep a separate cutting board for each type of food to avoid the risk of food poisoning.
Food during travel and trips
It is important to avoid raw foods such as meat, fish, and shellfish, and refrain from drinking unpackaged water from unknown sources.
Maintaining personal hygiene
Regularly showering with lukewarm or cold water helps reduce bacterial buildup on the skin and alleviates the problem of excessive sweating. Additionally, it is important to constantly wash hands to prevent the spread of infectious summer diseases.
Keeping children safe
You can keep children safe by monitoring them and not allowing them to swim in the sea or swimming pools alone, and checking the water depth to avoid the risk of drowning.
Moreover, it is important not to leave them alone in the car, as this can lead to their death due to the risk of suffocation caused by oxygen depletion and high temperatures inside the vehicle.
In general, it is necessary to avoid exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays and find ways to reduce temperature and humidity wherever you are. By following these guidelines, one can enjoy the summer while maintaining their health completely.
By: Dr. Badreyya Al-Harmi, Consultant Public Health, Emirates Public Health Association