At any point in the year, there is something lurking behind the corner to affect your health. It is incredibly easy to long for the greener grass (sometimes literally). Today, I am going to track through the various ailments and afflictions that can descend upon you in any given season.
Sun Stroke: Living in Australia, this is a genuine risk, every single year (regardless of whether we are in a la nina or el nino). Sun stroke (or heatstroke) is what happens when you physically exert yourself in high temperatures. This could be as innocent as a game of beach cricket or a quick tanning session - emphasis on quick. Your body temperature rises to above 40 degrees, your speech starts to slur, you become confused, irritable. You might start to feel nauseous, develop a headache and your breath becomes rapid.
If this happens, you should call 000, because it can cause vital organ damage which is irreversible. In extreme cases, it can even be fatal. As you wait for paramedics, you should get the person out of the heat, remove excess clothing, and cool them down with water.
Dehydration: This often goes hand in hand with sun stroke. When you sweat, you lose fluids and if you aren’t drinking enough to replace them, you might end up dehydrated. This is also a huge danger if you are vomiting frequently. As if you didn’t already have enough to worry about without considering dehydration! If you don’t deal with dehydration promptly, it can lead to heat stroke, kidney failure, seizures, even causing life threatening issues with your blood. Here is what you should be on the look out for in children:
- Tongue and mouth feel dry
- A lack of tears
- Sunken eyes
And in adults:
- Feeling profoundly thirsty
- Urinating less frequently than usual
- Urine is darker than usual
- Feeling tired, dizzy or confused.
In general, most cases of dehydration can be dealt with at home by simply increasing your fluids. You should seek medical intervention if you can’t keep the fluids down, it is lasting longer than 12 hours, or if your stools are bloody or black.
Flu / common cold: The average person gets the common cold 2-3 times a year. Or, if you’ve got a young child, they get it 20-30 times from daycare. I’m exaggerating, but only slightly. The flu, on the other hand? You would be unlucky to get this once every five years as an adult. Kids tend to get it every two years, but studies are showing that prolonged exposure as a child triggers a stronger immune response in later life. Some silver lining at last! When dealing with the common cold, you can do a world of good by simply increasing your fluids. You are getting rid of so much fluid with a runny nose, a wet cough or a sneeze. Make sure you get plenty of rest, and amazingly, there are medicinable properties to chicken soup! You should also be cranking your antiinflammatories - ibuprofen and paracetamol. These can be taken in conjunction for extra effect. Generally, a cold or flu can be treated at home, but if you can’t keep fluids down, or if symptoms have persisted for more than 10 days.
Seasonal affective disorder: Now this is an interesting one that often flies under the radar. Seasonal affective disorder is what happens when the days get shorter and our mood takes a serious decline. Ironically, the acronym is S.A.D. The lack of sunlight disrupts the body’s internal clock and plays with your serotonin levels which brings about a sense of depression. As a younger man, I lived in London for a spell, and January was a truly bleak time. But conversely, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face by July. But this effect is also evident in Australia, and I suspect that if you think about it, you have probably felt this in your own lives.
Autumn + Spring
I am putting these together because the same illnesses tend to rear their heads in both seasons. While they might be less dramatic than winter and summer, they are no less irritating.
Hay Fever: Spring is often thought of as a period of growth and new life, the first beginnings of hope after a long, bitter winter. But for some people, it is characterised by sneezes, and itching eyes. This happens because your body has misinterpreted pollen as a threatening body, and it triggers your immune system to fight this ‘threat’. We are talking runny noses, coughing, fatigue, sneezes, and bruising under the eyes. It feels for all intents and purposes like a cold. Something like claratyne becomes your silver bullet here. Claratyne is an antihistamine. This blocks a chemical your body produces which prompts the symptoms listed above. When your body tries to deploy the troops for a false alarm, Claratyne shows up and closes the gates. No more symptoms! The harmless pollen passes out of your system, and you can carry on your day as normal. In Autumn, this happens in different ways. Dust mites which have laid dormant for months come out to play and trigger the same response, and happily, Claratyne works in the exact same way.
Asthma: During these months, there are various triggers which can cause an asthmatic to have an attack: mould spores, pollen, grass. This can leave you with a shortness of breath, coughing fits, and a tight chest. You can often hear an asthmatic in the beginnings of an attack. Their breath sounds like wheezing. It is essential that they get an inhaler with a spacer, otherwise an asthma attack can be fatal. If in doubt, call an ambulance. Anything involving airways should be considered extremely serious.
So there you have it. There is literally no time of the year where something isn’t waiting in the wings to swoop in and hit you. This sounds quite bleak. It is mid-July at time of writing, so that may be hitting me after all!