The coming of spring feels exciting to most of us. It is the sign that the cold, dark gloom of winter has passed. We begin to enjoy warmer weather, longer days and more sunshine. However, spring brings with it its own health concerns. Be aware of these conditions that many have with the coming of spring, and how to avoid them.
- Allergies. Spring and fall are the seasons most likely to aggravate symptoms of those with pollen allergies due to the changing of the foliage around us. Symptoms are typically centered in the nose, throat and eyes. Most sufferers find relief from taking non-drowsy over-the-counter allergy medication for daytime relief. If these do not reduce all of the symptoms, you can add antihistamine eye drops and nasal sprays for further relief. However, if you do not experience significant relief when using these as directed on the package, see your physician.
- Insect bites. More time outdoors means more exposure to biting and stinging insects. Do not wear perfumed products when you know you will spend time outdoors. In areas that are wooded, wear a deet-free insect repellant, especially if you will be out in the early mornings and early evenings, when insects are most active. Once you are bitten or stung, treat insect bites with calamine lotion or cortisone cream to relieve the itching sensation. If a bite or sting area becomes highly inflamed, call your physician.
- Sunburn. The sun is out and many of us head outdoors to enjoy it. In the spring when the temperatures are still cool, it’s easy to forget to wear sunscreen, but keep in mind that the intensity of the sun’s rays are not dependant on the temperature of the air – you can get a sunburn on a day that feels cool. Apply a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher indoors before you go outside, and reapply as the label directs. Make sure to wear sunglasses and a hat for prolonged sun exposure.
- Dehydration. The onset of spring means increased exercise for many of us, especially kids and teens. As the temperature increases, make sure to get the recommended 1-2 liters of water per day. To increase your water intake, carry an insulated water bottle with you on-the-go. Pay attention to your caffeine and alcohol intake – both of these substances are dehydrating.
- Muscle strains. Our sudden increase in working out, gardening, and sports can easily lead to muscle strain early in the season. If you have not exercised adequately during the winter months, this is especially problematic. Minimize your risk by starting new activities slowly and building up your activity level gradually. Warm up before any strenuous exercise with five minutes of brisk walking. If your activities are aerobic, like jogging or cycling, cool down for five minutes by walking. Stretch your muscle groups gently after a workout (remember that stretching should not cause pain). If you feel pain during vigorous activity, stop the activity immediately. If the pain continues after stopping, call your physician’s office for guidance, especially of the painful area is reddened or becomes swollen and more painful when touched.