Jeremy Boyd, MD, a chief resident in the UC Department of Emergency Medicine, lists three seasonal injuries that bring many people to the emergency department during the summer:
Allergic Reactions to Stings: The more time you spend enjoying the outdoors, the more bugs you’re exposed to, says Boyd, including bees and wasps.
If you’ve had an allergic reaction to stings, carry an EpiPen when going outside, especially if you’ve had a severe allergic reaction, like anaphylaxis, before.
"While you may see a rash at the site of a sting, what you want to look for are more systemic signs of a reaction: a rash on areas other than the sting site, difficulty breathing, a feeling of your throat closing or abdominal pain and nausea,” says Boyd.
He says people who have had some systemic effects to a bite in the past are at a greater risk for a severe reaction later in life.
Anyone who may be allergic to a sting should be watched for 24 hours to catch a delayed reaction. If they develop difficulty breathing, dizziness, chest pain or low blood pressure, they need emergency care.
Injuries from Outdoor Vehicles: Improper operation of outdoor vehicles like ATVs can bring some of the worst traumatic injuries into the emergency department, often in otherwise young and healthy patients.
Boyd says ATV riders, or anyone operating a similar vehicle, should wear a helmet and exercise judgment and common sense—that includes avoiding any alcoholic beverages or drugs before or during operation.
"We see it every year. It starts when the weather warms up and stays through the summer,” he says. "Anytime people mix an ATV with alcohol or anything that dulls their reflexes and coordination, they put themselves at risk for some pretty serious injuries.”
Heat Exhaustion: Heat-related illnesses have been a big concern this summer with the recent heat wave across the Midwest.
"We’ve seen a lot of heat exhaustion and dehydration moving toward heat stroke,” says Boyd. "The elderly and those with poor or unstable housing are particularly at risk for these illnesses, as well as people taking diuretics for other conditions.”
Early signs of heat exhaustion include lightheadedness, dizziness and confusion. It’s also a bad sign when someone stops sweating, says Boyd—that means they are so dehydrated that the body’s naturally cooling mechanism has stopped.
To avoid heat-related illness, stay inside or in the shade during the hottest part of the day, and drink plenty of cool, nonalcoholic liquids. If someone starts exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion, seek medical attention.