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6 Common Summer Illnesses You Should Know About

By Jessa McClure
By Jessa McClure

Mother Taking Her Daughter's TemperatureSummer illnesses can pop up out of nowhere and ruin our fun in the sun. But Dr. Tim Martindale, a Providence Healthcare Network family medicine doctor, said if parents are aware of these diseases and conditions, then they can help their children avoid them.

Here are some of the most common summer illnesses that could affect your child:

1. Heat-related Illness
Participating in activities outside can be a great way to let off steam in the hottest months of the year, but it can also be dangerous if your child doesn't have the right protection. Heat-related illness could include sunburns, dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Symptoms: Red skin that is painful to the touch, clammy skin, dizziness, weakness, elevated heart rate, trouble urinating.

Treatment: Get inside, out of the sun and get hydrated.

Prevention: Avoid long-term sun exposure, keep hydrated while outside, wear sunscreen and head coverings.

2. Over-use Injuries
"During the year, kids are playing on carefully-programmed and calibrated equipment. But in the summer, they're wanting to do the same thing on rocky beaches," Dr. Martindale said. "Because of that, we get a lot of injuries—sprained ankles, wrenched necks and wrist pain."

Symptoms: (sprained ankle) The area is tender to the touch, might be swollen or bruised and is painful to move or walk on.

Treatment: Your doctor might want your child to use crutches or a brace to keep the area immobilized. They should also take over-the-counter pain relievers if necessary, keep the injury elevated above their heart at least two to three hours a day, and ice the injury for the first 48 to 72 hours, or until the swelling has improved.

Prevention: Avoid running or doing intense exercise on uneven surfaces and don't assume your abilities in the swimming pool translate to open water.

3. Food-borne Illnesses
Summer is the peak of picnic season, which means more and more people are eating outdoors in the hot sun. When you leave food like potato salad out in the heat, it can develop harmful bacteria, like salmonella.

Symptoms: Diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach cramps.

Treatment: If your child has become ill because of salmonella or a similar bacteria, your doctor will most likely prescribe an antibiotic to help clear it up. But often times, you just have to try to hydrate them and wait for the symptoms to subside.

Prevention: Make sure you are washing your hands before preparing food, don't let food sit out in the sun, and make sure your children are washing their hands before they eat.

4. Insect-Borne Illnesses
Illnesses caused by an insect bite are more common in the summer months because kids are outdoors more often. One of the most common insect-borne illnesses is the West Nile Virus. But children can also see significant symptoms from tick and spider bites.

Symptoms: (West Nile Virus) Body aches, fever and cough; (tick bite) fever, muscle aches, fatigue, rash; (spider) large bruise or sore, swelling at site of the bite, numbness or tingling, muscle spasms, abdominal pain or difficulty breathing.

Treatment: Wash the bite, keep the area elevated, a doctor may administer an anti-venom drug, pain relievers, muscle relaxants or corticosteroids. Your child might also need a tetanus booster if it has been more than 10 years since their last vaccination.

Prevention: Keep your body covered as much as possible and use a kid-safe insect repellant.

5. Water-borne Illnesses
Most of the time these illnesses cause symptoms similar to a stomach virus, but there are more dangerous water-borne illnesses like the one you can contract from the amoebic parasite known as naegleria.

"If you have a lake or a pond that has been sitting stagnant for a long time and somebody jumps into the water head first, the parasite can go into their eye and into their brain," Dr. Martindale said.

Symptoms: sensitivity to light, confusion, sudden headache, stiff neck, fever, change in the sense of smell or taste, or seizures.

Treatment: Very few people survive this type of infection. Early treatment is crucial to survival. Your doctor may administer antifungal medications to kill the amoebas.

Prevention: Avoid swimming in stagnant waterways, especially if there has not been much rain, and if you do swim in these areas, never dive in head first.

6. Out-of-season Illnesses
"We take off during the summer and go to Disney World or another country, and we're actually going to a different season or to a place where there's a whole different set of things we're not normally exposed to," the family medicine physician said.

These illnesses could be anything from a cold, the flu or even Hepatitis A from foods improperly prepared.

Symptoms: (flu) high fever, cough or sore throat, runny nose, chills, fatigue or nausea and vomiting.

Treatment: Over-the-counter flu medications can help alleviate uncomfortable symptoms while you wait for the illness to pass. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications or antibiotics if you have developed a secondary infection.

Prevention: Have your child wash their hands before eating and before touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.

"If you know your child is going to be in a different setting, look at it from a safety perspective," Dr. Martindale said. "Make sure you've thought about ways to make it safe for your kids before you let them jump in with all abandon." Back To Top

Categories:  Kid's Health & Safety

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