Deeper Look: Summer Urgent Care Issues
June 8, 2018
For many people, summer is the most wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Like every other season, there are a slate of summer urgent care issues that you have to watch out for. If you’re looking to make the most of your summer, here’s what you should know.
Deeper Look: Summer Urgent Care Issues
When it comes time for summer, urgent care waiting rooms start to look a little different. In the spring, you might see a lot of people waiting for help with allergies. In the fall, you’re likely to see a lot of people frantically fighting off school illnesses. If you visit an urgent care center in the winter, you’ll notice there is more than enough of the flu and the common cold to go around. During the summer, however, noses tend to be a little less stuffy. Instead, there are probably going to be a lot of patients who played just a little too hard. Swimmer’s ear, for example, is extremely common in the hotter months.
Of course, activities aren’t the only thing that can sideline you for the summer. Flowers are in full bloom during the summer months, and they can take quite a toll on you if you aren’t paying attention. Flowers aren’t all downside — in fact, many have immeasurable health benefits — but they are a good example of the type of thing summer can blindside you with. While you surely know when you’re at risk of breaking a bone or spraining your ankle, here are the things that you might not know to watch out for.
Sunburns seem innocuous, right? For the most part, they are. A little sunburn isn’t going to ruin your life, and you can likely be okay just covering it in aloe and moving on with your day. Unfortunately, because so many sunburns aren’t a real problem, the ones that are sometimes fly under the radar.
Most sunburns only entail redness of the skin, and pain when touched. If you’re burnt in a particularly unfortunate area, like your shoulder blades, you may experience some discomfort as the sunburn pushes up against your clothing. When you’ve had the sunburn for a while, you may start to notice some peeling — this happens as dead skin cells are sloughed off to make way for newer, healthier cells. A particularly bad sunburn will show itself in coloration. A normal sunburn will be a pinkish red, while a deeper one will be simply red.
Deeper burns can have a slew of unwanted side effects. The most common of these are swelling and blisters, which are both developed as part of your body’s response to the pain. In severe cases, a sunburn might begin to cause flu-like symptoms. You may feel feverish or have the chills, and then may suffer mild nausea. Headaches, fatigue, and muscle weakness may also develop.
You’ve surely heard of sunburns before, but do you know about sun poisoning? Sun poisoning is essentially a severe sunburn, and it’s one of the most difficult summer urgent care issues to deal with. Sun posioning has roughly the same symptoms as sunburns, but it causes much more severe reactions. In addition to the typical redness, swelling, and pain, a sun poisoned patient will feel fatigued, alternate between having a fever and having chills, and become nauseous. Sun poisoning can also cause dehydration, and severe dizziness.
If you begin to experience dizziness or dehydration after a sunburn, you need to seek medical care immediately. Treatment for sun poisoning is very similar to treatment for sunburns, but does require the attention of a medical professional. Because the symptoms can be compounded, it is important that treatment is performed effeciently. Dehydration and dizziness are signs that something has gone terribly awry.
Sun poisoning comes in three forms, the first of which is the “really bad sunburn” variety. The second is Polymorphous Light Eruption, or PMLE. Why PMLE occurs in some people isn’t entirely clear, but it is clearly linked to sunlight intake. Many theorize that PMLE occurs as the result of a sudden and drastic change in sunlight intake. If someone from New York, for example, were to take a trip to Hawaii in the winter, they might come down with PMLE. This can even occur if the weather has been cloudy for some time, then the sky suddenly opens up.
PMLE causes a severe skin rash. This rash can show itself in many ways. Small bumps spread throughout the sun exposed area are common — they are sometimes spread out across the area, while other times they appear in dense clumps. Hives on the arms, legs, and chest may also occur. In Native Americans, PMLE may be inherited, and will last from the beginning of spring through the end of fall. PMLE is treated in a variety of ways, though it rarly requires consistent medical attention.
The final form of sun poisoning is Solar Uticaria, which is the most immediate form. While a normal sunburn can take hours to form, Solar Uticaria shows itself within minutes of exposure to the sun. Solar Uticaria causes redness, itchiness, hives, wheezing, and dizziness. In paricularly bad cases, Solar Uticaria may cause loss of consciousness. This makes it (clearly) the scariest form of sun poisoning. As a result of this, it is suggested that you always seek medical attention if you think you might have Solar Uticaria. While symptoms normally wear off in a matter of hours, they can present themselves over and over again throughout your life.
Treatment for Solar Uticaria normally involves antihistamines, although this can only treat the symptoms. In any case, unlike most other sunburns, Solar Uticaria cannot be treated easily, and certainly cannot be treated at home. In general, it is best to see a doctor if you have a sunburn and begin to feel anything other than minor pain. If your skin is swollen or rashy, or you begin to feel suddenly tired, you need medical care.
Similar to sunburns, you’re most likely to experience heat exhaustion after a long day out in the sun. Of course, heat exhaustion isn’t specifically a summer urgent care issue — if you work a labor intensive job with the heat on, you know that heat exhuastion can show up in the winter — but it is most common in the summer months. Surprisingly, symptoms of heat exhaustion are similar to the symptoms of being hot. You might experience intense sweating, followed by an increased heart rate. However, heat exhaustion occurs as a result of overheating or dehydration, and causes much more than just sweat.
If your skin feels cool or moist despite the heat, you might be experiencing heat exhaustion. Faintness and dizziness are also common, as well as fatigue. Your heartbeat will become rapid, but also weak. Your blood pressure will become lowered, especially while standing, which can lead to vertigo-like symptoms. You may also experience nausea, muscle cramps, and a headache. If you begin to experience these symptoms, you should immediately cease all activity. Go to the coolest spot you can, and look for a drink of water. Sports drinks like Gatorade might also be good, but water is preferred. If your symptoms worsen or remain the same after about an hour of this, you should seek medical attention immediately.
A doctor will do anything they can to cool you off, including immersion in cold water or ice. They might also give you medication to increase your bodies ability to cool itself off, and ensure that you are properly hydrated. Generally, heat exhaustion is easy to treat, but the treatment should be performed by a doctor in case symptoms worsen.
As mentioned previously, swimmer’s ear is also a common summer urgent care issue. It isn’t hard to see why. In the summer, lots of people are swimming in lakes and pools. Would you drink that water? Probably not — it’s filled with dirt, people, and possibly pee. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to stop it from getting in your ears. You’ve surely had to empty your ears out after a dive before. Unforunately, this can sometimes lead to infection.
At first swimmer’s ear causes simple, annoying symptoms. These include itchiness of the inner ear, slight redness, drainage of clear fluid, and mild discomfort. From there, symptoms will progress incrementally. The first tier of symptoms more intense itching, discomfort leading to pain, more redness and drainage, pus in the ear, blockage of the ear canal, and mild loss of hearing. Finally, swimmer’s ear will become unbearable. Advanced swimmer’s ear is so painful that the pain can reach the face and neck. Your ear will become swollen and fully red, and your ear canal will be fully blocked. Your lymph nodes may be swollen, and you may begin to experience a fever.
Swimmer’s ear can be treated easily with medication, which is helped if the patient ceases swimming for some time. Like most summer urgent care issues, swimmer’s ear is hard to bear but easy to treat. Enjoy your summer, but be aware of the consequences the heat (and the ways to get out of it) can have.