Summer potpourri .jpg

Summer potpourri


Dr Thomas Kaiser is the Medical Director of the Vale do Lobo Medical Centre and is a specialist in good traditional General Practice for the whole family, state of the art aesthetic and cosmetic medicine.

Finally the summer seems to have arrived with those pleasantly warm nights. I don’t know about you but for me the winters feel longer every time. Along with the summer come the summer health hazards and I thought I better give you an up-date on how to be prepared and how to enjoy summer healthily.

Drinking fountains

I had suspected it for a long time but now a study has finally confirmed my suspicions. The average area around a drinking fountain contains more bacteria than a toilet seat. I say, and do, stay away from them. You should always have a bottle of water with you, as the body depends on plenty of hydration to function at its best. In the hot summer months it is very easy to get dry. So be prepared.

Ear health

Last month I went to a conference about ENT Medicine. The good news is that we seem to do all the right things when it comes to ear and throat infections. It seems to be helpful to keep the ear canal slightly acid to prevent swimmers ear. This year we shall add some vinegar to Dr. Kaiser’s ear potion.


Should your neighbour keep you up all night with his snoring, because you both sleep with your bedroom windows open in the summer, you should ask him to speak to his doctor about sleep apnoea. This condition seems to be getting more common, and means stopping to breathe during sleep and leads to acute and chronic undersupply of oxygen to the brain. The consequences are often severe, from high blood pressure, impotence, depression to accidents. Treatment is the use of a special oxygen mask or in some cases surgery.

There are a lot of patients out there, who could be helped, if they visited their doctors.

Sexual health

Have you ever wondered what happened to Viagra? Are people taking it?

There is some interesting news about that. The people who buy it via the internet often do not get what they buy. The pharmacy is by far the best source here. There are published investigation results that show that the longer acting version called CIALIS is now more popular, because it acts for about 36 hours and does not put time pressure on the user. Any form of pressure is the enemy of an erection. There are suggestions that taking CIALIS regularly twice a week instead of on demand could be the natural way forward.

Infrared radiation

We know that UVA rays in the sun light causes long term damage to the skin and UVB rays are responsible for acute sun burn. UVB is kept out by normal windows for example, but not UVA, which means that your skin can age in the car on a sunny day, while you will not get tanned or sun burnt. Infrared radiation, which goes deeper into the skin contributes to the skin’s ageing process. Normal sun creams do not protect from infrared radiation, but there are newer products that have additional block built in. Ask at your pharmacy – your skin will thank you.

Eye health

Your eyes will definitely thank you for those good quality sun glasses. Fashion here should be a secondary concern. The best lenses with optimal filter are useless if the glasses in general are too small and not covering your eyes properly.

Pool health

I will not bore you with statistics but still too many children drown in pools. Please check if your pool is really safe. Accidents often happen when a lot of people are present and nobody feels responsible, because the responsibilities are shared by so many and people are distracted.

Many injuries happen through falls and jumping into the pool. I have sutured 100s of chins from children jumping backwards into the pool (including my own son’s chin). Teach them not to do it.


Near the barbecue is a dangerous place for small children. Nasty burns and scalds can occur in split seconds so it is best to create a safety zone around the BBQ. Burn wounds are extremely painful, take ages to heal and leave ugly scars.

Food health

Bacteria like it warm and therefore grow much quicker in the summer. Make sure your cooler box is fully operational, when you go shopping or during summer parties. A chicken leg can ‘go off’ quickly if it is lying in the sun.

Emergency procedure

Summer is a great season to update your first aid and emergency skills.

You can only be good at it if you practice. When did you last go to a first aid course?

There are several good ones in the Algarve (Elisabeth Leal, for example, can be contacted through my clinic on 289 398 065).

Arrange an ‘emergency practice day in’ with your family or friends. Go through what exactly should happen in case of acute illness, fire, burglary, electrical failure and other hazards you can think off. Establish your individual guidelines and practice them. Train your children to evacuate your house quickly and safely in case of fire.

Train an emergency phone call to 112, which is the emergency number for ambulance, fire and police (just pretend… do not really call!). The operator needs to know, what happened, how many people are involved, when it happened, how to get to you and any other details that could be relevant. You will often get by in English, but it is a good idea to have a short sample of Portuguese words ready for the most common problems.

If you live in a remote area or if you are difficult to find, then send somebody to meet the emergency services at a known point. Would you find Faro or Portimão hospital in a panic? If not, go to your nearest hospital once, so that you know exactly where it is.

And last but not least, check your first aid equipment at home and in the car. You will probably find a lot of out of date items that need to be replaced regularly.

When it comes to accidents and emergencies, the policy should be to prepare yourself as best as possible and to be very happy never to have to use the equipment or skill!

Life has its risks and we should not get paranoid about them.

For more information, please call Dr Kaiser on 289 398 009