Six diseases that can spoil fun in the sun

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The fun and the good times associated with summer may be spoiled by six dangers that lurk during those sweltering days.

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The Department of Health (DOH) warned the public against sore eyes, sunburn, cold and cough, vomiting, diarrhea and skin ailments — diseases that usually come out in summer.

The list also included dog bites, because there are more reports of children being bitten during the summer months when they are on vacation.

The diseases easily spread as many people converge on tourist spots and tend to travel and socialize more often in summer.

The DOH provided tips to avoid contracting such diseases, among which are ensuring that swimming pools are kept clean; showering before and after plunging into the pool to avoid sore eyes and skin diseases.

Once out of the pool, one should not scratch his eyes even when they start to itch, it said. Health Secretary Enrique Ona recommended a visit to a doctor because home remedies may worsen the condition.

He warned that sore eyes or conjunctivitis could lead to blindness when mistreated. Hand washing can limit its spread.

Symptoms of sore eyes include redness in one or both eyes, tearing (watery eyes), uncomfortable gritty sensation, itch, mild pain (in some cases) and aversion to bright light even when vision is normal. In some instances, there may be yellow discharge (pus) from the eyes, which signifies bacterial infection.

The DOH said sore eyes could be passed from one person to another through direct physical contact, not by merely looking at an infected person’s eyes.

Outdoor activities such as jogging, swimming and other sports can lead to sunburn.

Applying sunscreen with 30 or more SPF (sun protection factor) every three to four hours provide adequate protection, Ona said.

Increased fluid intake when exposed to the sun to maintain hydration is also recommended. Drink at least eight to nine glasses of water a day.

Ona said coughs and colds are common when the body’s resistance is lowered from too much physical activity.

Diarrhea may be contracted by eating contaminated food, including those prepared for out-of-town trips. Extra care must be taken in preparing and packing food to avoid spoilage.

People with diarrhea should replace lost fluids, while children must be sent to a doctor for expert examination.

During summer, government veterinarians and private practitioners are advised to be vigilant in providing anti-rabies vaccinations for dogs.

Skin disease or scabies, locally known as galis aso, is caused by an itch mite Sarcoptes scabiel. The infestation spreads easily from person to person by physical contact, and it is common for an entire family to suffer this type of skin problem. The mites or kagaw often spread when people sleep together.

The hallmark of scabies is intense itching, which usually worsen at night. Applying a cream containing permethrin or a solution of lindane can stop this skin problem. Both are effective, but lindane tends to irritate the skin, is more toxic, and is not appropriate for young children.  Some scabies mites have become resistant to permethrin treatment.

The DOH said scabies may be avoided by taking a bath and changing clothes every day. If possible, avoid borrowing and lending personal things such as towels, clothing, pillows, or blankets.

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