Sunshine and warm temperatures will return to Decorah soon. Honest! And when summer returns, Dr. Anthony Coppola, DO, Family Medicine provider at the Gundersen Lutheran – Decorah Clinic, wants Decorah residents to be safe.
Heat Exhaustion is one of the most dangerous health threats on hot summer days. Symptoms may include nausea, dizziness, confusion and fatigue. "The treatment for heat exhaustion must begin immediately," cautions Dr. Coppola. "The individual should be moved to a cooler environment and rest. They should drink cool, electrolyte-rich fluids, like Gatorade. If symptoms do not improve or if there is a significant change in mental status, call 911."
Dr. Coppola says people can prevent heat exhaustion by wearing light cotton clothing; staying in areas where air can circulate; and drinking lots of water.
Sunburn is another common discomfort in the summertime. Excess sun is a leading cause of skin cancer and premature wrinkles. Dr. Coppola recommends wearing sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or more (one that blocks UVA and UVB rays); wearing sunglasses with UV-absorbing lenses to protect your eyes; wearing protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats and long sleeves; and seeking shade when possible during hours of direct sunlight.
If you do get sunburned, the best treatment is applying a cool cloth and/or aloe vera to the burned areas.
Finally, Dr. Coppola says if a bee sting happens to you or a loved one, you can try to scrape off or remove the stinger within a few seconds to minimize the amount of venom released. Pain relief measures might include applying ice, taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and an anti-histamine like Benadryl if there's burning and itching. Signs of a severe reaction might include hives, severe swelling, nausea and difficulty breathing, in which case you should contact emergency personnel immediately.
If you have any questions or would like more information, contact your primary care provider or the Gundersen Lutheran – Decorah Clinic at (563) 382-3140 or Gundersen Lutheran's 24-hour Telephone Nurse Advisor at (800) 858-1050.