Summer livin’ – is it all good?

Season Affected Disorders (SAD) are pretty well documented and they usually apply to the colder, more miserable winter months, when some of us suffer from the “winter blues”. A lack of sunlight and shorter days probably play a huge part in this seasonal depression, although the exact cause of SAD is a bit of mystery.

A few of us suffer from a dose of the SADs in summer. Hard to believe, but true. Common symptoms include persistent low moods, a lack of enthusiasm, being irritable and lacking concentration. But whilst millions of us don’t succumb to it and crave all the good things associated with summer, many are blighted by pesky summer health problems that can dampen a sunny mood. Most of these ailments are widespread but not usually too serious, although professional advice should always be sought if you’re still worried about your summer conditions.

Here are some of the most complained summer ailments:
1. Insect bites and stings. Ah – those are the very definition of “pesky”. Little innocuous bites that develop into bumps that just NEED to be scratched (but try to resist…!) Some of these annoying bugs thrive near water, but often there’s no escaping them. People can have mild allergic reactions following an insect bite, and rashness can last a few days. See recommendations from a pharmacist for the most effective creams and painkillers – don’t take any medication without knowing what’s in them and what the potential side effects could be.

2. Heatstroke. This is underestimated in the UK, and can be fatal in extreme cases, so please treat heatstroke with great caution. Symptoms include breathing problems, not sweating even if the body temperature is high, confusion and still feeling unwell after a resting spell in the shade. Because of the potential severity of heatstroke, you should call the NHS emergency number if you have the slightest doubt.

3. Prickly heat. Cases have dropped in the last few years, but prickly heat remains a very real summer condition for some. Classic symptoms are the presence of red rashes, which tend to appear in high humidity mixed with heat. The best preventable action? Wear loose, cotton clothes and drink lots of water. But if you think you have prickly heat, applying a cold damp cloth to the area for a good 30 minutes should alleviate the problem. If it persists, speak to your pharmacists post haste!

4. Sunburn. With the vast range of effective creams and lotions on the market, you may be thinking why anyone would get sunburnt. Well, many people misjudge the sun’s intensity or apply sun cream when the damage has already been done. Or maybe they think that swimming protects them from powerful rays (it doesn’t). Whilst it’s true that sunburnt skin usually peels off within a couple of days, it can obviously be more serious if skin blisters. In extreme cases, seek medical help. See more skin advice here: summer skin advice.

5. Food poisoning. A bit too eager on the barbecue, eh? You’d be surprised how many cases of food poisoning occur in UK summers. True – not all cases are due to undercooked barbecue food, but it’s undoubtedly a factor. Never leave food out in heat for longer than necessary. Make sure you wash veg before consuming them, and don’t be shy with a meat thermometer!