The silly season

By Dr Maria Alice

The silly season is generally considered to be the period lasting for a few summer months when the mass media often focuses on trivial or frivolous matters, for lack of major news stories.

But it is also a period of time, during a holiday, in which the behaviour of an individual or a group tends to become uncharacteristically frivolous, mirthful or eccentric.

In the Algarve, the silly season is marked, without a doubt, by frivolous, outlandish or illogical activity or behaviour and it seems surely to be here now, with a vengeance.

We are at the height of our own extraordinary, unmatchable Algarvian silly season and it has been a pretty silly one … as usual.

This is the time when people think a holiday is a very special break from normality. They are convinced that they go into a state of grace where nothing, but nothing, wrong can ever happen. Even more so, nothing wrong will happen whatever they do!

In many cases, reality hits shortly afterwards and very often hard, bringing the dreamers back to normal life and the hazards of living. It also brings them to the doctor!

Holidays are often not perfect as there are many wonderful things that can turn into a nightmare.

The sun and the heat

Beautiful brilliant sunshine that warms the body and soul, and gives the skin a healthy glow!

What about ultraviolet light dangers, sunburn and prickly heat?

A long time ago there was this doctor who came from Scotland on holiday for the first time in his life. Enjoying the most extraordinary Algarve sunshine, he spent his first day of holiday at the beach, sitting under the umbrella, reading his book. Nevertheless, his legs were out of the shade, under the sun.

He spent the rest of his holidays coming into the surgery every day for dressings to both legs.

Sunstroke may also occur, especially if people forget one very simple thing – to drink water.

Because of not drinking enough water and losing more liquids than usual through sweating, urinary infections become more frequent.

The water

– Delicious pools…

A very nice 70-something lady who had not been in a pool for 20 years, when arriving at her luxurious holiday villa to enjoy the time of her life, could not resist the pool and jumped in, feet first, but not into the deeper end. Result: both ankles plastered.

– Amazing sea…

During the long hot summer, nothing is more refreshing than taking a plunge into the sea at your favourite beach.Never mind that the waves look a little larger than normal or no lifeguards may be on duty, the urge is almost irresistible.

Waves, currents … many hazards that people do not pay attention to and the doctor will be needed.

Unfortunately what happens very often is that the swimmer is convinced he is the best swimmer in the world and the sea cannot beat him. Not true, it can and unfortunately it does, more often than we would like.

We humans were not made to survive in the water. We were made to live in the open air.

This brings us to another water-related problem, common to pools and sea, which is the number one holiday issue in a beach-side environment – the ear infection calamity.

Animals and plants

Jellyfish, spider fish, allergy to some plants, palm trees spikes … Close encounters that inevitably force many people to end up at the doctor’s practice.

The heat affects not only people but also animals, as high temperature causes aggressive behaviour in many animals like snakes and scorpions, and all sorts of insects from mosquitoes to spiders.


Consider someone who, in the daily routine of life, never has the chance to fit in any physical exercise but decides to make up for lost time and goes on a tennis holiday.

The body is not ready for intense exercise so the person ends up … at the doctor, with broken bones, muscle and tendon (like Achilles’ tendon) ruptures, sprains and cuts.

Food … and drink

Nutrition in summer should also be changed, just as people change clothing for the summer season. To feel more comfortable in summer, they should merely drink more water and avoid alcohol, eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and less fatty meat.

But the opposite happens…

High temperature also affects food, increasing the risk of poisoning cases.

It can actually be worse with food that you eat at home, as restaurants have to abide by very strict rules.

In the peak of summer, the heat, gradually rising, affects people’s health in many ways.

Beware! Think! Use your brain; don’t leave it at home when packing.

For the Algarve residents, I have a warning: this strange behaviour is highly contagious!

Best health wishes,

Dr. Maria Alice

||[email protected]

Dr Maria Alice is a consultant in General and Family Medicine. General Manager/Medical Director – Luzdoc International Medical Service. Medical Director – Grupo Hospital Particular do Algarve