With the first really hot days, the fires have started and our bore hole gives only a trickle of water. Aside from those worries, I am mainly concerned with your health during the summer season. Here is my advice on how to survive the heat, without having to see your doctor.
This extremely common condition during the heat of the year is, by nature, a skin infection of the extremely sensitive ear canal. It is caused by too much water in the ear, leading to dry skin, which loses its natural protection and can get infected. A lot of ear wax promotes this illness.
How to avoid it
Have your ears checked for excess wax. If they are too waxy, they should be cleaned by your doctor before the swimming season. Make it a habit to put a few drops of normal olive oil into the ear canals before you go to bed. If you experience pain in the ears, don’t wait too long before you see your doctor. The treatment works quicker in the early stages of the illness.
Be extra careful on those windy but sunny days, when the sun does not feel as hot but has the same strength. Use high factor sun cream, a sunhat and sunglasses. The outer lining of the eye, the cornea, can also get sunburned. Good sun protection is pure anti-aging medicine.
Drink lots of non sugary, non alcoholic drinks. It is very easy to get dehydrated in the summer. Early signs are continuous tiredness, headaches and low mood. Remember that alcohol and sugary drinks can lead to dehydration by themselves. This is because they interfere with water re-absorption in the kidneys, and by binding a lot of water respectively.
Barefoot on the beach
A lot of injuries occur by stepping on sharp objects on the beach. This is particularly true for children when they play in the dunes in the evening, while you have your delicious grilled fish at the beach bar. Make sure they wear sandals. It saves a lot of pain and trouble.
Wet swimming trunk syndrome
This happens especially to young boys who run around on the beach all day with their wet bathing costumes. The friction and rubbing of the wet textile on the skin leads to inflammation and, at worst, can lead to quite unpleasant infections. It is uncomfortable in any case. It is best prevented by putting dry light shorts on after swimming, and using lots of moisturising cream like Vaseline.
Cynics have claimed that these were the invention of us doctors to create more patients. We see a lot of injuries from banana boat passengers – mostly facial cuts and musculoskeletal injuries. They are not suitable for smaller children, non robust swimmers or the elderly. Be prepared for sudden stops and accelerations.
Prevention in this field is definitely better than cure. Once bitten, the doctor can prescribe steroid creams to help the inflammation. If you get severe swelling and fever, see your doctor immediately. This could be an infection and needs an antibiotic. By the way, Malaria does not exist in Portugal.
In hot weather, bacteria grow quicker. Keep food in a cool dry place – in the fridge is best. Do not consume frozen food that has been accidentally defrosted before. If in doubt rather open a new pack. For travellers’ diarrhoea, your doctor has effective treatment. Always try to drink plenty of water and re-hydration liquids.
Tonsillitis in teenagers
July until August is tonsillitis time in teenagers. This severe throat infection is spread through close social contact (like kissing and all these things teenagers do in summer). It is very common and the treatment is most effective if started early. The experienced doctor diagnoses tonsillitis without even looking in the mouth. The change in voice is the give away. The cause can be viral, bacterial or glandular fever. A blood test clarifies the diagnosis.
Animals in cars
Please don’t underestimate how hot it gets in cars. You cannot leave your dog in the car for any amount of time. I have recently seen a dog dying who was left for only 45 minutes in his owner’s hot car. Dogs, by the way, also tend to get a condition similar to swimmers’ ear in the summer, but please don’t bring your dog to me for ear syringing!
Wishing you a happy and healthy swimming season.
Dr Thomas Kaiser
Family medical Centre, Quinta do Lago, Almancil. Email [email protected]
• Dr. Thomas Kaiser is a Medical Director in the Family Medical Centre in Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago. His special interests are prevention, anti-ageing medicine and aesthetic medicine