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For many, summertime means sun, surf and sand, but the season can also bring asthma attacks, ear infections and blistery rashes on the hands and feet.
Here are seven health woes that are more likely to occur in the summer months than at other times of the year.
Asthma attacksSlide 2 of 15
Summer can be a dangerous time for kids and adults with asthma. More smog and air pollution, high pollen levels and increased mold growth due to high humidity all cause a spike in asthma attacks, said Dr. Adam Vella, assistant professor of pediatric emergency medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
If you are prone to asthma attacks, continue taking your daily controller medications throughout the summer and keep a close eye on pollen and air pollution levels, Vella said. He advised checking local air pollution and pollen counts at airnow.gov.
"If levels are high, it may be best to stay indoors, in air conditioning, if possible," Vella said.Slide 3 of 15
Swimmer's earSlide 4 of 15
Technically known as otitis externa, the common infection called swimmer's ear leads to an estimated 2.4 million doctor's visits and $500 million in health care costs each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
To prevent water from getting stuck in the ear canal, dry your ears thoroughly after swimming or showering, said Dr. Jennifer Shu, an Atlanta-based pediatrician and medical editor for the website, healthychildren.org.
To do this, use a towel, the CDC recommends. Tilt your head so one ear faces down to allow water to escape the ear canal. Then gently pull your ear lobe in several directions to help the water drain out. If the water is still stuck, you can use a hair dryer to remove it keep the dryer on the lowest heat setting and hold it several inches away from your head.
Ear care is especially important during the summer months when heat and humidity can fuel the growth of the bacteria and fungi that can cause swimmer's ear. And, never stick a cotton swab or other object in your ear. "Leave the ear wax alone it protects the lining of the ear from infections such as swimmer's ear," Shu said.Slide 5 of 15
Food poisoningSlide 6 of 15
The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that foodborne illnesses are two times more common during the summer months than during other parts of the year. That's because the bacteria that cause food poisoning grow fastest in hot and humid weather.
According to the CDC, 76 million people fall ill with food poisoning each year. Older adults, young children and anyone with a weakened immune system may be more susceptible to food poisoning.
"It can be devastating for older adults, especially those with one or more chronic conditions," said Dr. Michael Stern, co-director of the geriatric emergency medicine fellowship at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. "Loss of water volume and electrolytes due to a diarrheal illness can cause dehydration, as well as kidney, heart and muscle problems for older adults," Stern said.
Prevent food poisoning by keeping perishable foods refrigerated or in a cooler with ice, Stern recommends. Food left out of refrigeration for more than two hours may not be safe to eat. In temperatures higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, food should not be left out for more than one hour.Slide 7 of 15
HyperthermiaSlide 8 of 15