Summertime means warm weather, a break from school and family vacations. While most people look forward to this time of year, for emergency departments it means more trauma injuries, and other illnesses and injuries related to summer health hazards. Even minor illnesses or injuries may result in a trip to the emergency room during the summer because families are on vacation far away from their primary care doctors.
Emergency departments are filled with injuries due to summer fun gone wrong. When you hear “burns” during the summer, you might assume sunburn. Don’t forget there are also burns from grills and fireworks.
Drowning incidents become more common through the summer months, with outings on the boat, open pools and warm beaches, especially those without lifeguards.
Car accidents are more common in the summer, potentially because of the increased number of teen drivers on the road, the toll heat takes on vehicles and more construction. Other accidents are also likely to trigger trips to the emergency room. Kids (and adults) playing sports, homeowners climbing on ladders and roofs, biking, lawn mowers, boats and trampolines can all cause summer injuries.
Common Summer Illnesses
As kids are playing in the sun and adults are working in the yard, dehydration and heat-related illnesses become a concern. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat rash and heatstroke should all be on your radar during warmer months, especially for infants and geriatric patients.
Allergies are also a summer health hazard. Poison ivy, sumac and oak, as well as bug bites and bee stings, aren’t usually a huge concern for emergency medicine practitioners. For some patients, however, these summer nuisances can trigger extreme allergic reactions. In some areas, bugs spread diseases like Lyme disease and West Nile.
Picnics and grilling increase food poisoning cases throughout the summer months. Recreational water illnesses (RWI), which aren’t always killed by chlorine and can cause various symptoms like diarrhea, rashes and swimmer’s ear.
Between injuries and illnesses, I hope you’re ready for a busy few months in the emergency department.