5 Health Conditions that Can Get Worse in the Summer
Sunburn is one thing, kidney stones another. Don’t get sidelined this season
It’s summertime and the living’s easy — for the most part. Maybe you don’t have to shovel snow or spend ten minutes bundling up just to walk the dog in order to avoid frostbite. But hot weather has its hazards, from rip tides and shark scares to sunburn and close encounters with poisonous plants. Simply step outside on a hot summer evening and you’re bound to become instant mosquito bait.
But there are less well-known summer health hazards you should keep in mind. Hazards that affect your body from within. Here are five summer health ailments that get worse as the temperatures rise.
Climate change is affecting not only our planet, it’s taking a toll on our health. Case in point: A University of Texas study has found that the incidence of kidney stones will increase in step with rising record temperatures. Researchers predict a huge increase in kidney stones by 2050. To help prevent kidney stones, which are made up of mineral and acid salts, the Mayo Clinic advises staying well-hydrated (which also will help protect you from heat stroke) when the weather’s sultry. It's important, too, to keep levels of protein, sugar and, especially, sodium in your diet low. Note that if you live in a warm part of the country or tend to sweat a lot, you may be at higher risk of kidney stones.
Related: 7 Signs You Need a Drink (of Water!)
As the temperature rises, so does the risk of migraine for someone who’s prone to them. A study of more than 7,000 emergency room patients who came in for migraine symptoms during a seven-and-a-half-year period revealed that for every 9 degree F bump in temperature, migraine cases increased. To head off migraines in summer, the Cleveland Clinic advises staying hydrated (rely on water and other non-caffeinated beverages), eating regular meals no matter how busy you are (your tennis partner can wait) and steering clear of common migraine triggers if they affect you. Some you’re likely to encounter in summer: hot dogs, pickles, beer and certain cheeses.
Summer whims can spell trouble for people with asthma. When air temperatures change suddenly — as when the thermometer plummets just before a thunderstorm — it can bring on asthma symptoms, according to the American Lung Association. Asthma sufferers also may have trouble breathing in outdoor air pollution as well as when ozone levels are high, which occurs more often in the summer. If you have asthma, your best protection is prevention: Keep a check on daily air quality and, if you live in a city, heed the smog warnings that often occur on steamy days. If the weather outside seems frightful, stay indoors as much as possible.
Winter may be peak season for heart attacks, but summer heat also can take a toll on people with cardiovascular disease or who are at risk for it, according to the American Association of Heart Failure Nurses (AAHFN). That’s because high temperatures increase heart rate and lower blood pressure. Folks with weak hearts may not be able to pump enough blood to cool their bodies and can quickly become overheated. If you have heart problems, the AAHFN recommends you stay inside on blistering days, make sure you drink enough fluids (and back off of caffeine and alcohol) to keep you hydrated and have someone on speed dial who can get to you quickly if you need help.
Sun exposure, elevated temperatures and wind — hallmarks of summer weather — can bring rosacea flare-ups. If you have rosacea, a skin condition that causes redness, bumps, eye irritation and thickening of skin around the face and other parts of the body, fend off flare-ups by following these tips from the National Rosacea Society:
- Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before heading out and reapply every couple of hours.
- If you can, stay out of the sun when it's at its strongest (between 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.)Head outside early in the morning or late in the afternoon to stay cool and avoid the heat that may trigger a flare-up
- Add a wide-brimmed hat and a good pair of shades protect your face and eyes from UV rays.