Summer is on its way at last – and health experts are reminding people to take care while enjoying the sunshine.
Local hospitals and health services see a number of patients every year who have become ill due to summer sun and warmer weather.
Professor Chris Gray, medical director for NHS England Cumbria and the North East, said:
“With the English weather, it’s easy to forget that strong sun and high temperatures can make you unwell.
“Over-exposure to the sun can lead to sunburn, dehydration and heatstroke, and increase the risk of skin cancer, so it’s important to enjoy the summer safely.
“It’s also important to keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and avoid drinking too much alcohol as this can cause dehydration in the hot weather.
“If you do end up feeling ill in the heat, visit your local pharmacist who can provide advice on common illnesses and how to treat them, call NHS 111, or make an appointment to see your GP for persistent illness. We’re asking people to keep A&E departments free for those who really need them and use the most appropriate NHS service for their needs.”
Heat affects some people more seriously than others. Older people, babies and young children, pregnant women, people doing manual work outdoors and those with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart problems should take particular care.
Dr Alistair Blair, Clinical Chair of NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group and local GP said: “It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be abroad to suffer from the sun. Older people and young children should take particular care in the sun, but anyone who doesn’t take proper sun-safety measures can be at risk.
“Around 7,000 new cases of malignant melanoma (skin cancer) are recorded each year in the UK and over 1,000 die from the disease.”
Summer activities can also lead to health risks, said Dr Blair:
“Most outdoor activities are good for your health – but it’s worth following a few precautions to avoid problems.
“Over the summer the NHS can see more sports injuries, food poisoning from barbecues and alcohol-related accidents.
“Warmer weather brings an increase in food poisoning cases, but careful storing, handling and cooking of food can reduce the risk. Thorough cooking and clean hands are the best way to avoid food bugs.”
Parents and carers of children under five can get medical advice on a range of common childhood illnesses from the ‘NHS Child Health’ app available from Google Play or the App store.
Patients are also encouraged to visit the NHS Choices website for advice on treating common conditions.