It’s almost holiday season, and many people will be getting ready to head to their place in the sun (wherever that is). If everything goes well, holidays can be incredibly fun, but if things go wrong, they can be a nightmare – especially if you or your loved ones are injured or suffer from a dangerous illness. The sun can be the biggest risk to your health when you’re travelling abroad – depending on where you go. The following guide will help you stay safe and healthy on your holiday.
The most common source of injury and illness when people travel abroad is the sun. Increased light and heat can cause a lot problems if people aren’t used to protecting themselves. The damage from sun is caused by its ultraviolet rays as well as from its heat.
Sunburn is a massive problem in the summer and when people travel to warmer countries. The worst part about it is that we often don’t know we’re being burnt until it’s too late. It’s nice to get a good tan when you’re on holiday, but don’t be tempted to use a weak SPF (or no sun cream at all!) in order to encourage your tan. Not only can sunburn be incredibly painful, it can increase our risk of developing skin cancer further down the line. And if you need any more incentive to opt for an SPF of at least 30 at all times, just remember that sun damage also ages your skin prematurely!
The same UV rays that damage our skin also damage our eyes, but people around the world are much less vigilant about wearing high-quality sunglasses than they are about putting on sun cream. This is mainly just down to a serious like of awareness and because the damage the sun causes our eyes often takes a little longer to reveal itself. The sun can cause a laundry list of horrific eye conditions, such as:
- Photokeratitis – This is when your corneas and/or conjunctiva are sunburned. It is incredibly painful and it isn’t usually noticeable until several hours after the damage is done. Tears constantly stream down your face and it feels like you have sand in your eyes at all times.
- Cataracts – A much more long-term injury, carats are caused by the sun as the UV rays change the structure of the lens in your eye from clear to cloudy. In extreme cases, cataracts can cause complete blindness.
- Macular degeneration – This is a kind of gradual blindness that occurs because of the degradation of the most sensitive part of your retina (the macula). This is often associated with old age, but it actually occurs in response to a range of external factors, including sunlight.
There are many other big problems sunlight can cause your eyes, including pinguecula (little yellow growths) and cancer of the eye. The good news is that it’s even easier to protect your eyes from the sun than it is to protect your skin. Any high—quality pair of sunglasses will provide your eyes with total UV protection. If you’re worried about sunlight getting in from the top or sides of your lenses, then you can get wraparound frames. If you require corrective lenses, make sure you buy them from a reliable source that guarantees total UV protection. In fact, top eyewear retailers like Red Hot Sunglasses have entire range of prescription glasses where all the clear lenses offer total UV protect, just like sunglasses. This is perfect if you want the protection they offer, but you don’t really like wearing sunglasses because they cause you to see everything through darkened lenses all the time.
Another big problem when people travel in hotter climates they aren’t used to is heat-related illness, which is split into three more commonly known illnesses:
This is when your major muscles are stressed in a hot environment. They occur more when you exercise in warm weather, but they can occur even if you’re just walking around. Infants, children, and elderly people are all more at risk of suffering from heat cramps. You are suffering from heat cramps if you are sweating profusely and have involuntary spasms in your larger muscles. To treat heat cramps, you need to rest, cool the body with damp, cool cloths (not cold, as this can shock the body), drink plenty of water, and stretch out your muscles a lot. The best way to avoid heat cramps is to avoid any kind of workout in extremely high temperatures.
Heat exhaustion is a step above heat cramps. It occurs if the temperature is so hot that a person’s ability to regulate their temperature is overwhelmed and thus disrupted. The following symptoms are all typical of heat exhaustion: weakness, nausea, profuse sweating, headache, vomiting, muscle cramps, and feeling lightheaded. Move to a cool environment if you think you may be suffering from heat exhaustion. Rehydrate yourself as soon as possible and use cool water (not cold) to cool yourself down. If it gets any worse, call for an ambulance.
Heat stroke is worst of the three heat-related illnesses, and it’s the next step after heat exhausting. Often, people just suffering from heat exhaustion refer to their illness as heat stroke, but the realities of heat stroke are much worse. Heat stroke is the extreme elevation of your body’s temperature – usually alongside dehydration. Look out for the following symptoms: a complete lack of sweating, confusion, irritation/agitation, and even slipping into a coma. It’s much harder to identify these symptoms in yourself if you are suffering from heat stroke as you will probably be confused, so make sure the people you’re with know what to look for. You will need to cool down and rehydrate if you’re suffering from heat stroke. However, it is very dangerous and potentially life-threatening, so make sure you call the emergency services as soon as you suspect you or someone you know is suffering from heat stroke. For more information on heat-related illness, visit the NHS Choices website’s advice on heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
That’s it for this guide. I hope you’ve learned a lot and that you’ll be a lot safer when you head out of your summer holidays. Safe travels.