Summer is heating up...
Just because it's warm out, doesn't mean you are immune to health issues.
Hopefully you had a fabulous 4th of July holiday. Summer is in full swing! For many, summer means swimming, camping, road trips, vacations, no school, and just about anything outdoors. As for medical concerns during the summer, most people pretty much feel healthy both physically and mentally. Outdoor activities increase dopamine levels (think "runners high"), sun exposure (good for Vitamin D, bad for the skin), and burn calories for weight loss. Most viral infections like colds, coughs, and flu-like illnesses seem to go into hiding for the summer.
So, you would think most primary care practices would slow down in the summer for lack of "sick people". Well, as a matter of fact,most practices continue to chug along at a pretty steady pace. Why? Because a whole host of summertime conditions surface. Some unique to summer, others just happen year around. Let's break it down:
Common Summertime Medical Conditions:
- Musculoskeletal Injuries surge in the summer. Fractures, sprains, strains, lacerations are by far the most common. Simple sprains and strains can be managed conservatively and most often do not require an ER, urgent care, or doctor's office visit. Fractures and lacerations certainly need to be evaluated in person. If you "just want to know if there's a fracture", then a simple request to your online concierge doctor would suffice. Your online doctor can also arrange an orthopedic or physical therapy referral. Lastly, when simple rest, ice, elevate, and compress (RICE) measures and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories (e.g. Advil, Motrin) aren't quite cutting it, consider consulting with your Cirrus Medical Network (CirrusMED) physician. There are several compounded topical treatments available by prescription that are not only effective, but much safer than some of the oral medications typically used for musculoskeletal injuries.
- Edema (swelling of the legs, and sometimes hands) is more common in the summer primarily because blood vessels dilate in the heat. More blood pools in the legs due to wide open arteries, gravity and sometimes poor vein function. It is usually harmless and resolves with leg elevation, compression stockings, low or no-salt diet, and a cooler environment. Rarely, one may need a short term prescription for diuretics (aka "water pills"). Note that if your swelling is in one leg only, a more serious problem such as a deep vein clot would need to be ruled out. Or, if a single joint (i.e. toe, foot, knee) is red, hot, and swollen...think gout, especially if you have indulged in some alcoholic beverages. Of course, these conditions would need to be evaluated by your CirrusMED physician and may require additional testing.
- Heat Injuries such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke are generally avoidable with proper hydration and cooling. Sometimes identifying them can be difficult because the body loses ability to regulate temperature resulting in mixed signals to the afflicted person. Make sure you drink plenty of water and are voiding regularly.
- Skin and the sun don't always play well together. Delay aging and prevent skin cancer - cover up and use sunscreen. Those spray sunscreens are "OK" but be careful using them around the little ones who may inadvertently inhale those chemicals. Bug bites also happen and also rarely need attention unless you notice increased swelling, redness and warmth after a few days.
- Allergies can affect people any time of the year. Plants, trees, and weeds all bloom at different times and can wreak havoc on one's quality of life. Avoidance is the best treatment, but not usually possible. Most treatment options are now over-the-counter: antihistamines (Claritin, Zyrtec, Benadryl), inhaled nasal steroids (Nasacort). Prescription allergy medications such as Singulair (montelukast), Flonase (fluticasone), and Nasonex (mometesone) or even a steroid burst (e.g. prednisone) may be helpful for moderate or severe cases. Your CirrusMED physician can manage allergies online and refer you to an allergist if needed.
- Summer Viruses are somewhat of strange bunch. With funny names like Coxsackie, Adenovirus, Enterovirus, and Herpes virus, they may, or may not, start off like a simple cold or cough, low grade temperature. Often they result in a skin rash. Most resolve spontaneously. Even influenza has popped up on the radar in mid-summer.
- Mood Changes such as anxiety, panic, and depression can all be triggered by the heat of summer. Many a conflict has started in the heat of the summer. Usually this is easily managed with proper counseling and possible medical management.
These are just a few of the common summertime medical conditions seen in the primary care setting. Of course, the usual chronic medical problems such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and thyroid disorders all need periodic monitoring by your online primary care physician.
So, before you run to the emergency room, urgent care, or your doctor's office, consider consulting with your CirrusMED doctor. Your time is valuable, and summer is short. Let us help you enjoy your summer to the fullest!To your health!
Cirrus Medical Network (CirrusMED) Online Concierge Physicians Your Doctor. Online. CirrusMedicalNetwork.com
ps. Stay tuned for some exciting new offerings from Cirrus Medical Network...coming soon, the "Family Plan" and the "Refer a Friend" program.