Bee stings are just one of summer's possible health emergencies. (Reuters Photo )
Ah, summer. A time for all sorts of fun activities — hikes, cookouts, pool days, bike rides and more. And ow, summer. A time for all kinds of seasonal injuries and health emergencies. such as burns from the grill, tick bites, heat stroke and swimmers ear.
Be prepared with our Summer Survival Guide — we identify nine common summer ailments, explain what they look like and detail how to treat them. Our focus is on how to respond, but doctors note that the best way to enjoy your summer is by practicing prevention: wear sunscreen and bug spray, cover up when hiking in the woods and drink lots of water on hot days.
For those with pets, we've included information on what to do when your four-legged friend suffers similar injuries or problems.
Keep this guide handy — and get out there and enjoy the season.
What it looks like: A small red mark will appear, and there may be a stinger visible. You'll feel a sharp sting, but generally, you'll know you've been stung if you see the bee.
What to do: Use tweezers to scrape or pull the stinger out of the skin, says Dr. Brian J. Browne, chair of Emergency Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and chief of the Emergency Department at the University of Maryland Medical Center. He then advises mixing a meat tenderizer rub with a little water to form a paste and applying it to the sting — a trick of the trade that he has found to be very effective on stings and ant bites. If you start to have an allergic reaction and experience hives or shortness of breath, go to the emergency room or contact your physician.
What not to do: Bees are often found together near flowers or food. If you get stung, try to remain calm so as not to aggravate any other nearby stingers. Definitely don't try to destroy a hive.
What it looks like: Burns of all kinds are seen in the summer — first degree sunburns, as well as second and third degree burns caused by the sun, grills, fireworks or boat motors. First-degree burns cause the skin to turn red. They can also make skin hot to the touch. Second and third degree burns will produce blisters and could seriously damage skin.
What to do: Many burns can be treated at home. Browne advises immediately cooling the burn by running the affected area under tap water. He likened skin burns to cooking meat — it continues to cook even after it's removed from the heat — so you'll want to be sure to cool the area immediately by immersing it in water or allowing water to pour over it. If the burn looks serious, consider seeing a doctor. Burns that might require a second look are ones that cover joints (like wrists, elbows or knees) or that are on hands, face or feet, Browne says. A doctor should see any burn that covers a significant area of skin, or one that appears to be infected. For first degree sunburns, apply an aloe lotion or gel to soothe the pain. For burns that blister, apply an over-the-counter burn cream and wrap the area with a bandage to prevent infection, Browne says.
What not to do: Avoid popping a blistered burn, as it leaves the area open to infection, Browne says. If it does pop, he advises carefully removing torn skin, applying burn cream and covering the area with a bandage.
What it looks like: A person who is dehydrated will likely be complaining of thirst, headache, shortness of breath and overall weakness, says Dr. Michael Zimring, director of travel medicine at Mercy Medical Center.
What to do: Drink water. If symptoms are severe, consider a trip to the emergency room for an IV.
What not to do: Zimring cautions against drinking just any liquid to rehydrate. Caffeine in sodas and tea, as well as alcohol in beer or wine, can actually act as dehydrating agents and add to the problem.
What it looks like: Heat stroke victims will be fatigued and weak and will also feel confused or be unconscious, Zimring says. The main difference between the less-serious heat exhaustion and heat stroke is the change in mental status — a heat exhaustion victim will feel weak but will have a normal mental status and be awake and alert, Zimring says.
What to do: If the victim is unconscious, Zimring advises that you call 911 or go straight to an emergency room. He recommends that you immediately start cooling down the body by going to a cool area indoors or in the shade and using a mister or spray bottle of water. Ice packs should be applied to the inner groin and underarms.
What not to do: Don't submerge the body in cold water — the bath will constrict blood vessels and only allow the surface of the body to get cold, Zimring says.
What it looks like: Poison ivy is a three-leafed plant that, when it comes into contact with skin, causes redness, itching, swelling and blisters. Often the rash creates lines or strands on the skin from they way it brushed against the body.