WITH summer threatening to arrive, a Colchester GP practice is urging people to enjoy the season of sunshine safely.
Dr Marjorie Gillespie is Primary Care Medical Director at Care UK, which runs North Colchester Healthcare Centre in Turner Road on behalf of the local NHS. “Whether you are planning to stay in England or travel further afield, summer is a great time to unwind and relax – but it’s also a time to keep up your defences against seasonal health issues. As always, prevention is far better than cure and a little forward planning is time well-spent,” said Dr Gillespie. Here are some top tips to enable you to enjoy the summer.
Staying safe in the sun: too much exposure to the sun is not good for your skin whether you’re at home or abroad. It is important to apply sun cream before exposing skin to the sun. Don’t wait until you start to burn and begin to feel red and sore before thinking about applying cream or moving to a shadier spot, as the damage may already have been done. Sunburn in children is also more damaging than it is for adults, so it is extremely important to make sure that children are protected when out in the sun. Use a high factor lotion and try to keep them covered up or in the shade. Try to make sure you avoid the sun in the middle of the day when it is at its hottest, and drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated. Also, consider what you wear: long sleeves and hats can help protect you from the sun. Consider putting children in swimsuits which offer sun protection.
Flying: if you are going abroad for your holidays and travelling by plane, there are a few things to remember to make your flight as enjoyable and safe as possible. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a clotting of the blood which usually occurs in the calf, and tends to be accompanied by intense pain in the affected area. It can develop during periods of low activity. This means that it is important to keep your legs moving when on a plane, by either getting up and walking along the aisles or doing exercises while you are sat down. In-flight compression stockings can also help, as they increase blood flow, but they should be properly fitted and not too tight. Drinking plenty of fluids (not alcohol) also helps avoid DVT. If you are travelling across time zones, you may find that you suffer from jet lag (a disruption to sleep patterns) when you arrive. To try and overcome this, ensure you are well rested before you embark on your journey and try to nap during the flight. Also make sure you stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluid, but try to avoid alcohol. When you arrive at your destination, try to eat and sleep at the correct time for your destination, not back at home. Spending time outside in the natural light will also help you adjust. If you take the oral contraceptive pill or any other medication at set times during the day, ask your GP for guidance on how this might be affected.
Food and drink: depending on where you are travelling to, you may be at risk of cacthing infections from the water. In developing countries, avoid drinking tap water – go for bottled water instead, and also use this to clean your teeth. Avoid uncooked foods such as salads. Also avoid drinks with ice. If you get diarrhoea - drink plenty of clear, clean fluids. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as it will make matters worse. Pack some oral rehydration salts, such as Dioralyte, and diarrhoea medication, such as loperamide, available from chemists,
Insect bites: bites and stings from insects can be a problem both at home and abroad. In some foreign tropical countries, insects such as mosquitos can carry diseases like malaria and Dengue Fever. Make sure you take a good insect repellent and bite relieving cream with you. Wearing loose fitting clothes and wearing shoes rather than walking barefoot will help to stop a mosquito bite reaching your skin. Sleeping under a mosquito net will also help prevent bites at night – you may want to take a sewing kit with you to make sure you can repair it if needed. For some tropical destinations, you may need to take anti-malarial tablets. Speak to your GP or visit a travel vaccination clinic for advice. They will also be able to tell you about any additional immunisations you need before you go.
Safe sex: as when at home, whilst away, always remember the importance of safe sex.
The North Colchester Healthcare Centre is open 7am-10pm, seven days a week, 365 days a year for walk-in patients. These extended hours have also made it a very popular choice with patients who have chosen it as their registered GP surgery. Further information about registering as a patient with North Colchester Healthcare Centre can be obtained on 01206 314015.