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Top summertime illnesses and injuries

More health issues to be concerned about beyond the coronavirus this summer

As we start progressing into the summer months, it is important to be mindful of the potential risks associated with summertime.

Last year, we went over five of the big ones: heat-related illness, drowning, sunburns, bicycle injuries and bug bites. Now, we’ve asked Brandon Williamson, MD, a family care physician and clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, what else we need to know.  Although this summer may be a little different than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to note that some summer health issues are always present, and here are five more that you should be mindful of as you enjoy some physically distanced fun outdoors.

Grilling injuries

There is nothing quite like the smell of barbecue or hamburgers on the grill on a hot, summer day. Unfortunately, with that comes an increased risk of grilling injuries, which can mean anything from thermal burns to house fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2014 to 2018, an average of 19,700 people annually were sent to emergency departments due to grilling injuries. Before you decide to grill, be sure to follow important safety tips.

Poisonous plant rashes

Plants, including poisonous ones, are in full bloom during the summer. The risk of developing poison ivy or other rashes from plants also increases during the summer because we spend more time outdoors. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the three most common causes of skin rashes are poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac—all of which contain an irritating sap called urushiol, which causes the painful rash you develop when you come into contact with the plant. A great way to avoid these plant rashes is to dress in long pants and long sleeves and learn how to identify them so you can avoid them.

Foot infections

Foot infections, such as athlete’s foot, commonly occur in people whose feet become sweaty while confined in tight shoes. Summertime can amplify this risk due to sweat accumulating in shoes on a hot day. Symptoms of the fungal infection include itching, stinging and burning of the foot. To prevent getting a foot infection, keep your feet dry, wear well-ventilated shoes and change your socks regularly.

Foodborne illnesses

Warmer weather is a great time to have picnics and barbecues with your family outdoors. However, foodborne bacteria also love warmer weather and thrive during this time. Safe food handling is critical to protecting yourself from foodborne illnesses, which can cause nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps. Although we know that washing your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds is important in fighting off the coronavirus, it is also important when handling food. Follow these tips to prevent foodborne illnesses.

“Sunburned” eyes

Not only can too much UV radiation from the sun damage your skin, it can also damage your eyes. Sun damage can increase your risk for eye diseases, including cataracts, macular degeneration and conjunctival cancers, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Remember to wear UV-blocking sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats, and do not look directly into the sun, as suggested by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Media contact: Dee Dee Grays,, 979.436.0611

Gracie Blackwell

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