Summer in the Philippines could mean a whole lot of trips to the beaches, servings upon servings of refreshing halo-halo, and visits to the kamag-anaks or relatives in the provinces. But all of these plans may come to a disheartening halt when you or an important family member gets any one of these summer diseases. Make sure that everyone remains healthy this summer so that you can all have a great time spending your holiday not in bed, but in the outdoors!
Prickly heat or bungang araw is widespread in a country such as the Philippines that experiences high humidity and very high temperatures. It is characterized by skin rash with itchy, red and raised spots caused by excessive sweating and blocked sweat glands. Mild prickly heat should go away after a few days, but more serious ones could escalate to more critical conditions. Keep the skin cool by taking cold shower or bath, and changing sweaty clothes with new ones that are light and loose. Avoiding strenuous physical activity and prolonged sun exposure also helps.
Lying out under the sun too long can cause sunburn. Sunburn is a kind of skin damage caused by the harmful rays of the sun. It causes redness of the skin coupled with a stinging sensation, which may progress to swollen blisters that dries and flakes in a few days, combined with itchiness. Occasionally, sunburn is coupled with flu-like symptoms including headache, fever and weakness. You can prevent it by applying and reapplying sunscreen, wearing sun protective clothing and accessories such as hat or umbrella, staying under the shade and avoiding prolonged sun exposure.
The summer heat can be too much to irritate your throat causing you to develop cough and cold. Also, in summer many fruit trees and flowers bloom, which cause pollen allergies to some people, notwithstanding dust particles in summer that merge with the wind irritating not only your throat but also your eyes and skin. The heat can cause you to sweat a lot, and when you don’t hydrate enough, you end up with a dry, sore throat. Proper hydration is the key to preventing this disease – drink lots of fluids, especially water and fresh fruit juices rich in vitamin C and other essential nutrients.
Athlete’s Foot and other fungal skin diseases usually develop in summer because overgrowth of skin yeasts is encouraged during excessive sweating and with hot, humid weather. Frequent bathing and washing of skin can help prevent these skin diseases along with keeping the skin dry and cool, and using fresh new socks and clothes.
Two years ago, the Department of Health conducted an aggressive program of ending rabies-related deaths by 2016 through mass vaccination of dogs. Fast forward to summer 2016, and we hope that indeed the DOH is successful. Still, rabies is a summer disease afflicting Pinoys for many years, and we should all be vigilant when encountering dogs and other animals that are potential carriers of rabies, seeking medical help (vaccination) immediately after being bitten, scratched or licked (open wound) by animals.
- Diarrhea/Food Poisoning
When it’s summer, there’s so much food and drinks. We often get thirsty for cold drinks and snacks. We might be tempted to buy packed ice, iced candy, buko juice, ice cream bars, and other beverages sold around the corner that we think can satisfy our thirst, not minding the potential risks that unsanitary food may cause. Always observe discretion when buying food off the streets and an unknown food stalls and eateries. When traveling, always bring oral rehydration packs and anti-diarrhea medication.
Heat stroke or sun stroke is a serious medical injury that a person can experience in summer due to excess exposure to high heat. It can affect those stuck in traffic (and my, do we have such heavy traffic!), those athletes under the heat of the sun, and those frolicking in the beach at high noon who do not rehydrate and take a break to cool down their bodies.
- Sore Eyes
Summer is also a time for sore eyes. The DOH is constantly reminding Pinoys to be watchful of contracting from and passing sore eyes to others. Observing proper hygiene and frequent hand washing is one way of preventing the spread of the disease. Protecting the eyes with eyeglasses or sunglasses also helps prevent irritants from getting into the eyes.
Chicken pox or bulutong tubig is another summer disease commonly afflicting Filipinos during the hot months of March through May. It’s a highly contagious disease that affects mostly children. Parents are advised to have their kids vaccinated at 12 months old for the first dose and at 4 years old for the second dose to prevent complications when the child eventually contracts the disease. (Vaccinated kids still get the disease but only in a milder form.)
- Tuli Infection
For many young Filipino boys, summer time is tuli time. Tuli is the vernacular for circumcision. Most Filipinos are keen to have each young boy circumcised by the age of 10 for social, religious and medical reasons – more like a rite of passage. Although circumcision is now available to newly born male babies as an option for parents, circumcision during boyhood remains more popular. So whenever you see young boys wearing nothing but a very loose shirt (more likely their father’s), and stretching the mid-section of the fabric away from their body as they walk with awkwardness – you’ll know they just went through the surgery. And because it’s a surgical procedure, proper after surgery care is critical to ensure complete healing, especially since circumcision is administered unto a boy’s most distinctive organ.
For Filipinos, no amount of heat and humidity can stop us from enjoying the summer. In fact, the summer heat is encouraging enough for us to hit the beach, the swimming pool or that cool barrio where our grandparents live. Perhaps the only reason we cannot have an enjoyable summer is when we get sick. Whether it’s just a simple cold or a terrible case of food poisoning that keeps you hospitalized for days or weeks, you can only hope you had done better to prevent such outcome.
It’s always fun to share tidbits of helpful information to family and friends. This summer, make the season more educational for them by providing them a link to this article. It could very well save lives (if not, realize summer dreams), for all you know. Hit the social media buttons below for fast and easy sharing. If you have anything in mind regarding this article, share them with us through the space provided. Always be on guard because health is wealth, and it’s the most important element to a meaningful summer. By staying healthy, you end up freeing lots of time (and money, too) for that dream summer getaway!
Note: This article is largely based on the previous warnings from the DOH published at CNN and Inquirer.