MANILA, Philippines – Summer has officially come. It’s the perfect time to travel, relax under the sun, and do outdoor activities, but it also means increasing risks of getting some diseases that often rear their ugly heads during the summer.
The Department of Health (DOH) continues to remind the public of the 6 widespread illnesses acquired during summer. According to DOH Secretary Enrique Ona, these diseases include sore eyes, sunburn, cough and colds, rabies, stomach ailments, and skin diseases.
Don’t let these stop you from enjoying the summer. Here’s what you need to know about maintaining good physical condition despite the heat.
Also known as conjunctivitis, sore eyes is the inflammation of the conjunctiva or the outer lining of the eyeball and the inner lining of the eyelid.
The swelling is commonly caused by viral infection, but it can also be brought about by bacteria or allergy. Signs of sore eyes commonly manifest within 3-4 days and can persist up to two weeks. Some of the symptoms include redness in the white of the eyes and itching, sensitivity to light, and discharge from the eyes.
To avoid getting the disease, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before you touch your eyes and face. Also, any material such as towels, eyeglasses, and make-up that made contact with an infected person should be washed and cleaned.
Sunburn is one of the most common conditions acquired during summer. Severe sunburn is a risk factor for skin cancer and melanoma.
“Direct, prolonged unprotected exposure is definitely harmful to the skin,” skin professional Dr Lucille Gisela Ocampo said. After the exposure, skin may turn red, become irritated, and get burned. This condition may continue for several weeks.
According to Ocampo, on the one hand, erythema or the reddening of the skin with subsequent peeling a few weeks later is a sign of first-degree burn, but this can be relieved by having cool baths and applying moisturizers. On the other hand, blisters are considered a second-degree burn, which requires medical consultation.
Before you expose your skin to the sun, make sure to keep yourself protected. UV rays are the strongest between 10 am-2 pm, so avoid planning outdoor activities throughout these hours.
Rub on sunscreen or sunblock with sun protection factor (SPF) to the skin to protect it from the sun and to prevent sunburn. Apply it 15-30 minutes before exposure to the sun. Hats, caps, and sunglasses also help block sunlight. (READ: Skin sins: things you need to know about sun damage)
Cough and cold
Cough and cold are easily passed on and developed among individuals with weakened immune systems.
Cough and cold are brought on by different viruses. Regularly, a cold is acquired via airborne virus. Transmission also happens when an individual makes direct contact with infected surfaces such as doorknobs, computer keyboards, telephones, etc, and then touches his nose and mouth. Exposure to dust and dirt, allergies, and cold are a few of the causes of cough.
Although acquiring these sicknesses is quite common, they should still be taken seriously. Cough and cold may be symptoms of more severe diseases such as bronchitis and pneumonia, medical doctor Josephine Trinidad said.
Runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, and sore throat are some of the symptoms of the common cold. Cough caused by viral infections may result in fever, headache, and pains.
“Mahirap siya maagapan because of our weather (It’s hard to prevent the spread because of our weather),” Trinidad said.
But the spread of virus can be reduced by washing your hands with soap and water. Rubbing hands with alcohol or sanitizers helps as well. Also, keeping a healthy lifestyle is important. Having a balanced diet, sufficient sleep, and enough exercise can strengthen the immune system.
The rabies virus takes hold of the central nervous system and the brain that comprises the brain and the spinal cord. Once acquired, it can make alterations to the brain’s structure and function. Rabies exposures can lead to death, so prevention is a must.
The most common cause of rabies is the entry of infected saliva into the system through the bite of an animal. Exposure of open cuts to the saliva of a rabid animal can also cause rabies.
Some of the symptoms of rabies that last for days include fever, convulsions, restlessness, hallucinations, anxiety, and numbness.
While the Philippines remains to be one of the world’s most vulnerable nations with regard to rabies, it seeks to end rabies deaths by 2016 by vaccinating 7 million dogs, the health department said. (READ: PH seeks to end rabies deaths in two years)
Make sure that pets such as dogs and cats are vaccinated against rabies and are kept under supervision. Do not approach non-domesticated animals – no matter how cute they are when you encounter them during your travels and vacations!
Diarrhea is one of the most common stomach sicknesses acquired not only during summer but throughout the year as well.
Given the extreme weather during summer, food spoilage usually happens, Trinidad said. Eventually, diarrhea is acquired after the consumption of contaminated food and drinks. Coming into contact with different bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella can also cause diarrhea.
Bowel movements that are loose and watery take place when a person is afflicted with diarrhea. Other symptoms include abdominal bloating and pains, fever, vomiting, and malaise or discomfort.
Although a suffering individual can recover on one’s own, medical supervision is necessary to figure out underlying causes and prevent developing further maladies. According to Trinidad, dehydration may happen when too much fluid from vomiting and diarrhea is lost.
To prevent getting diarrhea, be mindful of food preparation and storage methods of anything you consume. Proper hand washing is also helpful.
Fungal skin diseases like athlete’s foot (Tinea Pedis) and an-an (tinea versicolor) may start to develop in summer due to the hot and humid weather, Ocampo said.
“Yeast normally lives on our skin. When the yeast overgrows, it causes [an-an]. It is believed that the following can cause the yeast to overgrow: hot, humid weather, increased sweating, oily skin and a weakened immune system,” she shared. “Athlete’s foot may occur when your foot gets wet in closed shoes due to heat and sweat.”
Fungal infections spread easily. Keeping the skin clean and dry is always helpful. Make sure your clothes, especially underwear and socks, are clean.
To prevent developing athlete’s foot, wash your feet daily and dry them well. Avoid walking around barefoot and use clean towels and socks to prevent fungal growth.
Treatments for diseases may always be readily available, but they can be costly and inconvenient. Preparation and first-aid remedies are also useful, but prevention will reduce the risks and will always be better than cure. – Rappler.com
Alyssa Leong is a Rappler intern