Top 5 causes of Ireland’s Indian summer illnesses

David Foley, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Medical Director of Affidea ExpressCare Minor Injuries & Illnesses Walk-In Clinic at Tallaght Cross East in Dublin, offers tips and advice for September’s continued run of great weather. A second ExpressCare is open in The Elysian in Cork.

1. Sunburn

Unlike when I was growing up in Ireland and can remember being sunburnt and having peeling skin on my shoulders, these days we are all much more aware of the dangers sunburn poses. In the short-term there is the pain and risk of infection but, more importantly, being sunburnt as a child increases your risk of developing skin cancers in later life. Public health education has reinforced the importance of wearing sunblock with UVA and UVB protection.

2. Heat Stroke

More prolonged exposure to raised temperatures can result in heat stroke – a condition where the body’s own ability to regulate its temperature fails. Symptoms include confusion, irritability, nausea, vomiting and headache. Both the elderly and younger children are more vulnerable to heat stroke.

3. Gastroenteritis

The popularity of barbeques in warm weather increase the chances of developing food poisoning through eating under-cooked foods. The symptoms of abdominal cramp, diarrhoea and vomiting are usually easily recognised as gastroenteritis. Most of these food-borne illnesses are mild and self-limiting, but occasionally can be severe and require hospitalisation. Again, like heat stroke both the elderly and younger children, along with people with underlying medical conditions, are the most vulnerable.

4. Hayfever

While Ireland’s Indian summers in September usually means good news for most of us – except those going back to school! – for hay fever sufferers it can mean the misery of an itchy, runny nose and streaming eyes, along with sneezing and congestion. Simple advice on avoidance of exposure to plant and tree allergens can help a lot and websites such as allergy-ireland.ie have excellent resources for those affected.

5. Bee Stings

Despite being less common these days, bee or wasp stings usually cause a local skin reaction which can be painful for a couple of days before fading. Very occasionally, more severe reactions can occur which can be life-threatening. In these anaphylactic reactions, a person’s airway, breathing or circulation is compromised. Immediate treatment includes administration of adrenaline and treatment in a hospital setting.

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