Seeking out some late summer sun? Make sure you take the time to stay safe in the sunshine.
Heading on holiday?
Before the school holidays come to an end many people are jetting off in search of the sunshine that has been missing at home over recent weeks.
If you are off on your travels it might not be top of your list, alongside passport and tickets, but NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is advising a visit to the pharmacy as part of your pre-holiday preparations.
If you regularly take certain medication, head down to your local pharmacy to make sure you have your repeat prescriptions before setting off. Some pharmacies abroad won’t have access to the same medication your own pharmacy does so it pays to be prepared.
Pack a basic first aid kit: include antiseptic, painkillers, bandages, plasters, antihistamines, insect bite and sunburn treatment.
Stomach upsets are the most common problem to hit travelers abroad, with between 20-60% affected. Make sure you’ve got basic diarrhoea or indigestion tablets to hand just in case.
Sun safety at home
Even back at home, it is important to remember that despite it seeming cloudy the September sun can be dangerous.
Local hospitals and health services see a number of patients every year who have become ill due to warmer weather.
Dr Ian Pattison, clinical chair of NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group and local GP, said: “It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be abroad to suffer from the sun. Older people and young children should take particular care in the sun, but anyone who doesn’t take proper sun-safety measures can be at risk.
“Around 7,000 new cases of malignant melanoma (skin cancer) are recorded each year in the UK and over 1,000 die from the disease.”
What to watch out for in the heat
Activities in warmer weather can also lead to health risks, Dr Pattison added: “Most outdoor activities are good for your health – but it’s worth following a few precautions to avoid problems.
“Warmer weather brings an increase in food poisoning cases, but careful storing, handling and cooking of food can reduce the risk. Thorough cooking and clean hands are the best way to avoid food bugs.”
Heat affects some people more seriously than others. Older people, babies and young children, pregnant women, people doing manual work outdoors and those with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart problems should take particular care.
Professor Chris Gray, medical director for NHS England Cumbria and the North East, said: “With the English weather, it’s easy to forget that strong sun and high temperatures can make you unwell.
“Over-exposure to the sun can lead to sunburn, dehydration and heatstroke, and increase the risk of skin cancer, so it’s important to enjoy the summer safely.
“It’s also important to keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and avoid drinking too much alcohol as this can cause dehydration in the hot weather.
“If you do end up feeling ill in the heat, visit your local pharmacist who can provide advice on common illnesses and how to treat them, call NHS 111 or make an appointment to see your GP for persistent illness. We’re asking people to keep A&E departments free for those who really need them and use the most appropriate NHS service for their needs.”
NHS Child Health app
Parents and carers of children under five can get medical advice on a range of common childhood illnesses from the ‘NHS Child Health’ app available from Google Play or the App store.
The app, originally developed in Washington, gives easy to understand guidance on childhood illnesses, recognising when your child is unwell, and advice on when and where to seek further treatment.
Patients are also encouraged to visit the NHS Choices website for advice on treating common conditions.
Improving access to urgent health care and making sure patients get the right treatment, in the right time and at the right place for their specific health condition is one of the main priorities for Sunderland CCG.
Urgent Care Centres in Sunderland are open open Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm and from 8am to 10pm, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays.
If you have an urgent care need but it is not a life threatening situation, please contact the free NHS 111 service first and you will be directed to the most appropriate service for your health condition.