Top physicians offer health advice to help people survive during summer

This summer a variety of top physicians at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital are offering health advice to help survive the travails that come with one of the most active seasons of the year. The full releases are copied below.

Warm Up Without Burning Out
Tips for Exercising Safely During the Summer

The summer is a great season for getting in shape. Whether by playing a sport, an aerobic exercise routine, or just returning to that familiar running path -- this is the time for activity.

Dr. Holly Andersen, director of education and outreach at the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, says, "Exercise is the fountain of youth and summer is the perfect time to re-connect with your body."

However, exercising during the warmest season of the year can lead to dehydration, profuse sweating, exhaustion, and even a cardiac event.

Dr. Andersen offers the following tips to those looking to resume or begin a workout routine this summer:

* Talk to your doctor. Consult your physician before beginning or changing your exercise regimen.

* Take your workout indoors. When it is too hot or humid outside, exercise in a cool, air-conditioned space. Extreme temperatures can alter your circulation, increasing the work of your heart and making breathing more difficult.

* Remember to stretch. Even in the summertime, our bodies need to warm up. As you are exercising, take time to work on breathing and posture -- improving these will greatly enhance your health.

* Drink plenty of fluids. Throughout your workout routine it is important to drink plenty of water, even before you feel thirsty. If you are prone to lightheadedness (from low blood pressure), are an endurance athlete, or over age 75, you should replenish your "electrolytes" as well -- having a little salt can be important for you.

* Try to maintain an even body temperature. After your workout you should not take an extremely hot or cold shower, or a sauna, as these can increase the workload on your heart.

* Be an early bird. If you truly enjoy exercising outdoors, take advantage of the coolest times of day -- the early morning and evening hours.

* Wear sunscreen. If you have a sunburn, it will decrease your body's ability to cool itself off. Always remember to apply sunscreen to your entire body every morning.

* Take it slow. Start your exercise regimen slowly and pace yourself throughout the workout, including plenty of time for breaks and to drink fluids.

* Have fun. Taking time to exercise is taking time for you. Enjoy it -- smile, breathe deeply and clear your mind. Exercising to music is mood and energy enhancing, but if you are outside wearing headphones, PAY ATTENTION!

Top Five Ways to Sunblock Your Eyes This Summer
How to Make Healthy Sunglass Choices

Overexposure to the sun can wreak havoc on your eyes. Sun damage can cause severe conditions such as photokeratitis (sunburn to the cornea), pterygium (tissue growth on the whites of eyes that can block vision), and skin cancer on the eyelids, and has been implicated in the development of cataracts and possibly macular degeneration as well.

"Although not every situation or every person requires sunglasses, there are many situations where the use of sunglasses will enhance comfort and may provide eye health benefits as well," says Dr. Jessica Ciralsky, an attending ophthalmologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Dr. Stephen Trokel, an attending ophthalmologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, adds, "There are strong indications that chronic exposure to the components of sunlight may accelerate aging of ocular tissues.

Any protective eyewear should have side shield protection or wrap around the eye so light cannot enter the eye from side reflections."

Drs. Ciralsky and Trokel offer a five-point checklist to help you choose the best sun protection for your eyes during the summer and all year round:

* Check the UV protection level. UV and sunglass protection is desirable year round, and should also be used during daylight hours, even through cloudiness and haze. Your sunglasses should provide more than 95 percent UV protection.

* Check the lens tint. Most people believe that darker sunglasses provide better protection against the sun but that is not true. The lens tint should block 80 percent of transmissible light, but no more than 90 percent to 92 percent of light; neutral gray, amber, brown or green are good colors to choose from.

* Make sure they block all of the light. Choose sunglasses that wrap all the way around the temples, and/or wear a hat with a three-inch brim that can block the sunlight from overhead.

* Wear shades over your contact lenses. People who wear contact lenses that offer UV protection should still wear sunglasses. Sunglasses are helpful for preventing the drying effect most contact lens wearers get, which is caused by warm wind.

* Buy shades for your children. For the greatest protection, consider providing UV-protected sunglasses for your children, and remember that the eyes of very small infants should always be shaded from direct exposure to the sun.

High-Risk Alert: Sun Protection Tips for Tweens and Teens

It's never too early to start protecting yourself against sun damage, and if you are a teenage girl this message is especially important.

"Even one blistering sunburn can increase your risk of skin cancer. As few as five sunburns can double your risk of skin cancer," says Dr. Anjali Dahiya, a dermatologist at the Iris Cantor Women's Health Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Teenage girls should be particularly careful, since melanoma, a potentially fatal skin cancer, is the most common cancer in young women between the ages of 25 and 29. Much of the damage from the sun in these young women will already have occurred in their teens.

"Sun exposure plays a significant role in the development of melanoma. Although more adults are using sunscreens during outdoor activities, many are unaware of how important it is to make sure that their children are getting the necessary skin protection," says Dr. Desiree Ratner, director of dermatologic surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.

Drs. Dahiya and Ratner recommend the following guidelines to help protect teens and tweens from the harmful effects of the sun:

* Use self-tanning creams. Tanning beds are not good for anyone. Teenagers and young adults looking to get that perfect tan should use tanning creams to get a safe summer glow.

* Be wary of freckles. If you develop freckles on your skin, this may be a sign of sustained sun damage. Freckles generally develop in sun-exposed areas such as the face, chest, and arms, and are more likely to develop in fair-skinned people with blonde or red hair.

* Apply sunscreen generously. Teens and tweens should apply sunscreen to the entire surface of their body about 30 minutes before going outside; if they are swimming, they should reapply once they are out of the water. Be sure the SPF of the sunscreen is 30 or higher, and that it has both UVA and UVB blocking ingredients.

* Minimize exposure to the sun. In addition to applying sunscreen, everyone should be guarding against the sun with hats, sunglasses and umbrellas when appropriate.

Slimming Down for Swimsuit Season

For most people, summer is the season for wearing light clothing and enjoying the outdoors, but those who have gained weight over the winter are probably not eager to throw on a swimsuit or pair of shorts.

Thankfully, it's not too late to shed those extra pounds you've been battling since New Year's Day and keep them off.

"This time of year offers us a greater variety of healthy foods to choose from, which makes this an ideal time to lose weight and keep it off," says Megan Fendt, a registered dietitian at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.

Michele Murphy, a registered dietitian at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, adds that "Every season offers us new ways to improve our diets and the summertime is no exception."

Megan Fendt and Michele Murphy offer the following tips to help trim the fat this summer:

* Take advantage of the warm weather to increase your exercise regimen. Play a game of Frisbee, volleyball or tennis; take long walks; or swim.

* Make seasonal vegetables the focus of your meal. Indulge in salads and steamed vegetables. Season vegetables with spices, lemon and balsamic vinegar, a little Parmesan cheese and low-fat dressings. Make these the largest items on your plate and add small portions of protein and/or starch.

* Grilling your food is a great way to add flavor while reducing fat and calories. Grilling meats allows some fat to drip off, which lowers fat and calorie content. Try wrapping fish or chicken in foil and add vegetables and seasonings to the grill.

* Satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruits. Bypass cakes, cookies and ice cream and opt for fresh berries, melons and even some of the more exotic fruits that are available instead. Fruit is fat-free, high in nutrients and fiber, and a natural energizer.

* Try "calorie banking." Cookouts with family and friends should not signal a diet disaster. By cutting back on your calories a week before special occasions, you can indulge a little more and enjoy yourself. However, try to restrict high-fat foods such as potato chips and mayonnaise-based salads.

* Stay away from empty calories. It is important to drink plenty of fluids during these warm summer months, but juice, whole milk, regular soda and alcoholic beverages are high-calorie drinks that you want to avoid. Alcoholic beverages contain empty calories and may stimulate your appetite. Instead, fill up on water, seltzer, juice diluted with seltzer, low-fat milk or iced tea.

Seniors Keep Their Cool This Summer and Learn How to Prevent Heat-Related Injuries

The dog days of summer are fast approaching, and while we cannot control the rising temperatures on the streets, we can control the heat index of our bodies.

When temperatures rise, so does the risk for heat stroke and other heat-related injuries, but often the warning signs for these conditions go dangerously unnoticed.

Older adults are at an especially high risk of experiencing heat stress and heat-related injuries throughout the summer.

Dr. Michael Stern, co-director of the Geriatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, says, "As a person ages, the body's response to higher temperature changes. Compared with a younger person, an older adult may not be able to sense elevations in temperature as quickly or be able to cool down as readily. In today's society we are also seeing an increased number of seniors doing vigorous exercise routines, which can become bad for their health if they don't slow down for scorching temperatures."

The effect of the sun on the skin of older adults can also be heightened because of changes in the skin as one ages. "You can burn much quicker even with short exposure to the sunlight," says Dr. Evelyn Granieri, director of Geriatrics at NewYork-Presbyterian/Allen Hospital.

"Heat-related injuries range from minor issues such as muscle cramps due to loss of water and salt through perspiration, dizziness, clammy skin and rapid heart beat; to heat exhaustion in the form of headaches, nausea and weakness; and finally heat stroke, which can be fatal," says Dr. Granieri. There are also several medical conditions that can place you at higher risk of experiencing heat stroke, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

Drs. Stern and Granieri offer seniors the following tips for a cool and injury-free summer:

* Slow down. When temperatures begin to reach extreme highs you should stay in the coolest place available out of the sun or in an air-conditioned room, and reduce or eliminate all strenuous activities.

* Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. You should minimize the amount of caffeinated beverages and alcohol that you drink, and grab a water bottle or a sports drink instead. A good test of hydration is to make sure that your urine is always clear in color.

* Don't get too much sun. Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation that much more difficult. Always remember to use sunblock (SPF 15 or greater) when outdoors for prolonged periods of time in the summer months, even on hazy or cloudy days. It is also important, if you have a loved one or friend who has memory problems, to ensure that he/she is not in the sun for any extended period of time. That person may not recognize or be able to tell you that he/she is uncomfortable.

* Dress cool. Lightweight, light-colored, loose clothing reflects heat and sunlight, and helps your body maintain normal temperatures.

* Anticipate change. Turn air conditioning systems or other ventilators on as soon as you go inside and take off extra layers of clothing when going outside. For seniors having trouble recognizing temperature changes, these automatic actions help maintain a comfortable indoor and outdoor environment.

Preparing Your Child for Summer Camp
A Safety Guide for Children That Eases Parents' Minds

Most people have fond memories of their camping experiences, but for parents, the anxiety of preparing for those days can be agonizing.

Whether it's a day camp or a long-term stay, parents can make the most out of the experience by preparing in advance.

"Parents should ask camp organizers basic questions about what plans they have in place to keep kids safe, handle medical emergencies, and deal with routine health needs," says Dr. Patricia Hametz, director of the Injury and Violence Prevention Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital.

"Camp staff should be trained in first-aid/CPR and also be thoroughly familiar with the facility's protocol in case of a medical emergency. Parents should receive a copy of those guidelines or have access to them through a posting on the Web site or on a bulletin board at the facility."

Dr. Hametz offers parents and guardians the following tips for a safe and injury-free summer camp experience:

* Share emergency contacts. Parents should give the camp the emergency contacts for all children as well as the child's physician including name, telephone number, fax number and the date of the last health care visit. Additionally, parents should have the emergency contact information for staff handy. If your child has a medical condition, camp staff should be notified.

* Get a physical before they get physical. Make sure your child undergoes a physical examination and that their vaccinations are up to date.

* Stay hydrated. Remind your child to drink plenty of water, even if they do not feel thirsty. Ensure they know to steer clear of sugary and carbonated drinks.

* Teach your child to practice sun safety. Pack lightweight clothing in light colors with a loose fit to keep the sun at bay and to keep body temperatures at a normal level.

Also remind your child to use sunblock (SPF 30 or greater) regularly when outdoors for prolonged periods of time, even on hazy or cloudy days.

* Teach your child to be safe in the water. Remind your child to follow all camp rules in and around pools, lakes and other bodies of water. Children should never be around water without a certified life guard on duty.

* Keep the bugs off. Avoid scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child. Ensure repellents contain no more than 30 percent DEET. For ticks, products should have a minimum of 15 percent DEET concentration. The concentration of DEET varies in different products, so read the label of any product you purchase.

Stay in the Game This Summer With R.I.C.E.

The summer is fast approaching and sports players will soon fill the courts, fields, greens and trails looking to get back in shape and practice their game. However, this also means there are plenty of opportunities for cuts and bruises, ankle sprains, muscle strains, and knee injuries, to name a few.

Dr. William Levine, chief of sports medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, recommends R.I.C.E., a first-aid technique that can be applied to most sprains, strains and joint injuries.

* Rest: If you are injured during any activity, stop the activity immediately and rest the injured area. Do not try to work through the pain.

* Ice: For the first 24 to 48 hours apply ice packs to the injured area every two hours for 15 minutes. Make sure that the ice is not in direct contact with the skin; a cotton handkerchief covering is helpful.

* Compress: Bandage the area firmly, extending the wrapping above and below the injury. This pressure will stop any bleeding and reduce any swelling of the injured area.

* Elevate: Whenever possible, elevate the injured area above the level of your heart.

Elevation and compression are typically used for acute injuries such as a twisted ankle.

Once an injury has occurred you should always consult a physician to ensure proper rehabilitation. However, prevention is always better than cure. Dr. Levine offers these simple tips for preventing sports injuries:

* Start slow. You are probably not in the same condition that you were last summer; new activities require muscles and joints to respond in new ways. This may result in minor soreness that could develop into something more serious if you push yourself too hard.

* Warm up. Get your blood pumping to those under-used muscles and joints before you begin, and do some gentle stretching once you are done. This will help you retain and improve flexibility.

* Take breaks. Every so often it is recommended that you rest the body parts that are working hard and are susceptible to injury -- even tennis pros rest between sets.

* Listen to your body. Don't ignore the little aches and pains you feel in your joints and muscles because they may help you prevent serious injuries.

Stop the Summertime Sniffles and Other Allergic Reactions

Every spring and summer, millions of Americans dread the trip to the park, the playground, or participating in any of the myriad activities that trigger outdoor allergy symptoms.

Dr. David Resnick, director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, says, "No matter where the symptoms show up, the problem affects the entire individual and could last a lifetime."

Dr. Ronit Herzog, director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the Komansky Center for Children's Health at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, says, "This season can be especially trying for children who suffer from allergies, as they struggle to participate in outdoor activities without triggering the sneezing, runny nose, eye irritation, or in some cases, asthma symptoms and hives that can be caused by pollens, molds, food allergies or a typical bee sting."

Drs. Resnick and Herzog offer the following strategies to help allergy sufferers survive the winds of spring and summer:

* Stay in an air-conditioned space. If you are allergic to pollen, it is recommended to run the air conditioner as much as possible during the warm-weather months instead of using a fan. Air conditioners can filter out large airborne pollen particles, whereas window fans draw pollen in. You should keep your windows closed and your air conditioner

* Cut back on morning activities. Pollen counts are usually highest in the early to mid-morning hours between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., so minimizing early morning activities may help you get a jump start on a symptom-free day. Shower and shampoo after playing or working outside.

* Avoid stinging insects. If you are allergic to bee stings, avoid wearing brightly colored clothing, flower prints, or perfumes and lotions with flowery scents. Always wear shoes when walking in the grass, cover your body as much as possible when working outside, and don't forget to carry medication in case of an emergency.

* Take medications. Eye drops, nose spray and non-sedating antihistamine can relieve symptoms temporarily, and taking it an hour before exposure can decrease symptom severity.

* Remove contact lenses. If you wear contact lenses, remove them if you have red, swollen or itchy eyes. Contact lenses can further irritate eye allergies and make the condition worse.

It's Time to Celebrate -- Make Sure It's Done Responsibly

As the weather gets warmer, people everywhere, especially teenagers, are preparing for graduations, proms and parties. It's the perfect time to remind your loved ones about the dangers of drunk driving.

"People think drunk driving is highest around New Year's Eve but that is not the case," says Dr. Karen Soren, director of adolescent health services at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital. "The issue of drunk driving is problematic year round, especially when it comes to those who are under age."

Dr. Soren offers the following tips for safe and injury-free driving:

* Choose a designated driver in advance. If you plan to party away from home -- and this includes on the water -- be sure to appoint a designated driver. Statistics show about three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.

* Practice safe-driving habits. Wear your seatbelt and ensure your passengers do as well. Do not use cellular phones, apply makeup, comb your hair, or eat while driving. Statistics show nearly 50 percent of teens admit to text messaging while driving.

* Avoid driving after midnight if possible. Most bars and clubs are in full swing around midnight and patrons leaving bars may not be in the best condition to drive. This all adds up to very dangerous road conditions.

* Be prepared to get physical. Excessive amounts of alcohol in the body may cause the central nervous system to shut down and this can be fatal. If a friend or someone you know has passed out from consuming too much alcohol, turn that person on his/her side and call 911 for help.

* Be a great host or hostess. If you are the host or hostess of a party, have a plan in place if any of your guests drink too much. For example, you might want to have a spare room available where they can sleep or have a taxi service on call. Remember -- you are responsible for their drinking.

Fireproof Your Summer With Tips From The Hearst Burn Center

Take extra care at your Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor

Day celebrations this year by ensuring that accidents do not interfere with summer fun.

Dr. Roger Yurt, director of the Hearst Burn Center of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, recommends the following safety tips to avoid burns from barbecues, fireworks and other routine activities that can pose a hazard this season.

Barbecue tips:

* Always open the cover before lighting a gas grill.

* Under no circumstances should you use your grill indoors.

* Always light the match before turning on the propane gas.

Fireworks displays:

* Fireworks and sparklers should be handled by trained professionals. Sparklers can get as hot as 1,200 degrees!

* Stay at least 500 feet away from the fireworks display.

Outdoor activities:

* ALWAYS wear sunscreen to avoid serious and painful sunburns.

* When playing in the sand or on playground surfaces, always wear shoes to avoid injuries and burns to the feet. Playground surfaces can reach temperatures of 180 degrees.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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