Finally the summer season is upon Africa. That period which allows both locals and visitors to go outside and get lost somewhere beautiful and exotic.
Those amazing months that allow us to connect with nature, to rejuvenate and soak in the bountiful splendour of everything within our vicinity.
Health wise, people also have to be on the lookout. Some diseases are more prominent in certain seasons than others. For instance, cold, flu and cough are common diseases of winters, dengue and malaria of monsoon, and diarrhoea of summers.
Of these, the diseases of summers bring along a host of other health problems. While it is the merry making season to many, necessary precautionary measures should be taken to avoid the following health problems.
The Online Mayo Clinic defines a heatstroke as: “A condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures”
This most serious form of heat injury which is common in summer can occur if your body temperature rises to 40 degrees or higher.
A Heatstroke requires emergency treatment. If left untreated, it can swiftly damage one’s brain, heart, kidneys and muscles.
The severity extends as long as treatment is delayed and can ultimately lead to loss of life.
Early signs of heatstroke include headache, drying of skin, cramps, weakness, vomit, increased heart rate, or shallow breathing which is usually followed by a bunch of other conditions such as nausea and seizures. If not attended to, it often leads to a coma.
To prevent heat stroke, doctors advise that one must overdo with clothes, which typically traps the body heat inside and causes problems. Additionally, staying in cooler areas helps avoid heat stroke conditions.
With this background, people are advised to stay hydrated and to avoid vigorous physical activities in hot and humid weather.
If one decides to perform physical activities in hot weather, there is need to drink plenty of water and sports drinks while avoiding alcohol, and caffeine (including soft drinks and tea), which may lead to dehydration.
It is important to take frequent breaks to hydrate yourself as well as wearing hats and light-coloured, lightweight, loose clothes.
To those who will be moving around with cars, keep cars locked when not in use and never leave infants, children or pets unattended in a locked car.
Defined as an illness caused by eating contaminated food, food poisoning is mainly rampant during the summer season.
This is due to excessive heat associated with the dry season which can easily spoil food.
Food poisoning is mainly spread by bacteria, viruses, toxins, and chemicals which, post entering the human body, cause the onset of stomach pain, nausea, diarrhoea or vomiting.
It can also cause longer-term illnesses, such as cancer, kidney or liver failure, brain and neural disorders.
Children, pregnant women, and those who are older or have a weakened immune system are at risk of food poisoning.
Raw meat, food sold in the open by roadside vendors, and contaminated water are common carriers of disease causing microbes.
World Health Organisation’s (WHO) first ever estimates of the global burden of foodborne diseases showed that on average one in 10 people fall ill every year from eating contaminated food and 420 000 die as a result.
Children under five years of age are at particularly high risk, with 125 000 children dying from foodborne diseases every year adds the global health watchdog.
WHO African and South-East Asia Regions have the highest burden of foodborne diseases.
To curb food poisoning, food must be well-cooked to ensure that it doesn’t get spoiled. When purchasing raw vegetables and fruits, ensure that the packaging doesn’t have bubbles on the top of the fruits or vegetables as that is a sign of spoilage.
Also, make sure that the food doesn’t smell bad before purchasing.
More often than not, eating food from street vendors in many countries can be a safe, and rewarding experience but there are some street vendors and restaurants that might not be too concerned with the proper methods for handling and preparing food.
In-adequate refrigeration is common in many parts of the world and there may be cross-contamination of ingredients, as well as inadequate disinfection of food preparation areas.
If you do cave in to your adventurous side, be sure that the food has been recently and properly cooked, and that it has not sat out all day.
The paramyxo virus which is notorious for causing measles breeds faster during the summer season.
Otherwise known as rubeola or morbilli, the disease has similarities with chicken pox in its transmission but it mainly infects the lining at the back of the throat.
Early symptoms include cough, high fever, sore throat, and reddening in eyes.
At a later stage, the tiny white spots and measles rash appear all over the body. In most of the cases, it starts around the hairline and the face.
As a preventive measure, one should have the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
If this vaccine isn’t suitable for, a treatment called human normal immunoglobulin (HNIG) can be used if one is at immediate risk of contracting measles.
One of the common diseases in summer is typhoid which is a systemic infection caused by Salmonella Typhi, usually through ingestion of contaminated food or water.
The acute illness is characterized by prolonged fever, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, and constipation or sometimes diarrhoea.
The contaminated food and water sources become the breeding ground for the bacteria leads to the outbreak when consumed.
To prevent typhoid frequent wash your hands in hot, soapy water. Wash before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet.
When water in unavailable, carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Also avoid drinking untreated water especially in areas where typhoid fever is endemic. Drink only bottled water or canned or bottled carbonated beverages.
Avoid raw fruits and vegetables because raw produce may have been washed in unsafe water. Fruits and vegetables that one cannot, like lettuce should also be shunned.