WITH the pound low against the euro, household budgets feeling the pinch and a predicted long, hot summer, more than half of us are looking to “staycation” in the UK this year.
This means dealing with homegrown holiday health hazards.
Experts say that when we holiday at home we underestimate the risks of sunburn, food poisoning, heatstroke and dehydration which are more likely to be on our radar when we go abroad.
These home-and-away holiday health tips from GP Paul Stillman will help head off problems and provide simple solutions if something goes wrong.
We wouldn’t dream of a sunshine holiday without sunscreen – but on a staycation it’s easy to underestimate the sun’s strength and get badly burnt.
Recent research for Soleve Sunburn Relief found that 50 per cent of us wear a higher factor sunscreen when we’re abroad but none or a lower factor at home.
Another problem is that most of us don’t apply enough sunscreen to provide the protection promised on the label. Dr Stillman says: “Most people apply only a quarter of the sunscreen they need.
“An adult should use about an ounce of sunscreen – enough to fill a shot glass – and apply it least 15 minutes before going outside.”
An adult should use about a shot glass full of sunscreen
Research by the British Association of Dermatologists reveals that one-in-three Britons gets sunburnt every year and more than a quarter are burnt three times or more.
Dr Stillman advises: “If you do get burnt, apply Soleve Sunburn Relief which is a clinically proven medicine for the relief of mild to moderate sunburn.
“It contains pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory ibuprofen and isopropyl myristate, an emollient which soothes and moisturises the skin while strengthening its natural moisture barrier.”
Dr Stillman adds: “This rehydration is crucial as it reduces tightness and promotes healing.” Soleve is a licensed medicine that is available only from pharmacies but no prescription is required. For more information visit solevesunburnrelief.co.uk.
Alamy Stock Photo
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If you’re holidaying in an area where malaria or dengue fever are a risk, take an insect repellent containing either Deet, picaridin or IR3535.
Every year about 1,500 people return to the UK with malaria because they’ve not taken antimalarial drugs. Dr Stillman says: “There have been concerns around the side-effects of antimalarials but the risks associated with malaria are far greater.”
Homegrown beasties can cause serious illness too. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has warned that ticks carrying Lyme disease are now prevalent in all areas of the UK, with the Highlands and south of England being particularly high risk.
Dr Stillman says: “Lyme disease is hard to diagnose because symptoms such as headache and fever can easily be mistaken for minor infections. If left untreated, it can lead to meningitis or heart failure.”
Matt Dawson had serious health problems after a tick bite
Former England rugby captain Matt Dawson needed heart surgery after being bitten by an infected tick in a London park.
“If you have been in parkland or countryside where ticks could be found and you develop a rash which looks like a dartboard or a bull’s eye, seek medical help immediately – even if you don’t recall being bitten,” says Dr Stillman.
Midges are another homegrown hazard on the rise. Unlike mosquitos, they don’t bite, instead, they cut a tiny hole in their victim’s skin and inject an anticoagulant into the wound to prevent blood clotting while they feed.
Dr Stillman says: “It is this anticoagulant which can cause intense itching, swelling and, in some cases, fluid-filled blisters.
“Hydrocortisone cream and antihistamine tablets, which you can buy over the counter at pharmacies, will help calm this allergic reaction.”
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You can avoid most problems with common sense and good hand hygiene
Dr Paul Stillman
Statistics on holiday sickness have been inflated by companies encouraging tourists to make questionable personal injury claims but there is no doubt that help-yourself buffets, street food and ice-cream vendors dipping scoops into the same murky water increase the risk of tummy trouble.
Dr Stillman says: “You can avoid most problems with common sense and good hand hygiene. Be wary of salads, seafood and uncovered dishes in all-inclusive buffets.
“Try to eat food that has been freshly cooked and order burgers well done. We often underestimate hazards closer to home. A barbecue where meat has not been cooked through or a picnic which has not been kept properly chilled are also major risks for food poisoning.”
Beware the buffet when on holiday…
He adds: “Remember the four Cs – chilling, cleaning, cooking and cross-contamination – get those right and you dramatically reduce the risk of tummy trouble.”
If you do get ill, Dr Stillman says: “Use ready-made rehydration salts rather than trying to make your own, because if the balance of sugar and salt is not correct you may do more harm than good.
“Apple juice or mineral water with a high level of bicarbonate will provide some relief if nothing else is available.”
Medicines that help to stop diarrhoea damage healthy gut bacteria, so Dr Stillman suggests: “Once your system has recovered, take probiotic yogurts or drinks to help restore gut bacteria and a multivitamin to replenish lost nutrients.”
“Sip regularly, even if you don’t feel particularly thirsty”
Dehydration is particularly dangerous for young children and older adults and there is an increased danger if you have suffered vomiting or diarrhoea.
Other risk factors include being out in the sun too long, excess alcohol or medicines which make you urinate more frequently – such as diuretics for high blood pressure.
Warning signs are thirst, dark yellow urine, dizziness, dry mouth and urinating fewer than four times a day. Dr Stillman advises: “Always have water to hand and sip regularly, even if you don’t feel particularly thirsty.
“If you suspect someone is dehydrated seek medical assistance if they become confused or have a weak or rapid pulse.”
Be wary of jellyfish and soak the wound with vinegar if stung
There has been an explosion in jellyfish around the world and they are becoming increasingly common off Mediterranean and Adriatic beaches.
Dr Stillman advises: “Stick to the pool if you know they are about and if stung, soak or rinse with vinegar to stop the tentacles releasing their toxins.
“Use tweezers or a stick to remove any tentacles and apply hydrocortisone cream.” Many British waterways harbour Weil’s disease, an infection that is commonly spread by rats.
Dr Stillman says: “Avoid swallowing water and protect any grazes with waterproof plasters. If you’ve been swimming, fishing or taking part in water sports and develop a temperature, headache and aching muscles, see your GP who can prescribe antibiotics.”
Read more here: Daily Express :: Health Feedhappy wheels
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