How to Avoid Common Summer Illnesses and Injuries

Bug bites.
Bike crashes.
Food poisoning.

Summer illnesses and injures are anything but fun in the sun. The good news is that many of these things can be avoided when proper precautions are taken.

Here are some of the most common summer illnesses and injuries – and what you can do to treat or prevent them:

  • Food poisoning – Although it can happen any time of the year, there’s often a spike in food poisoning cases during the summer months when more backyard BBQs and picnics happen. Food poisoning tends to occur when there’s cross-contamination or food is left out too long. The main symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea. If you experience food poisoning, it’s important to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and make sure you replenish electrolytes. If you’re unable to keep fluids down, you may need to visit your local emergency room or urgent care center. To avoid food poisoning, check these food safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Heat-related illnesses – Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are common on hot summer days. Watch for confusion, nausea, vomiting and being unable to keep fluids down. These are signs you need to seek shade, take steps to cool down and visit your local emergency room. For tips to exercise safely in the summer heat, read Seven Tips to Beat the Summer Heat.
  • Insect bites and stings – Most insect bites and stings will go away on their own within a few days. The main thing to watch for are signs of infection, such as red, swollen skin or a fever. If you experience these symptoms, you should contact your primary care provider for treatment.

Keep in mind that tick bites are more serious due to the risk for developing Lyme disease. When spending time in grassy or wooded outdoor areas, wear clothing that covers your skin and use tick repellent. When leaving the area, check your skin for ticks and carefully remove any that may be attached to your skin. A common characteristic of tick bites is developing a circular red rash. If you experience this, see your primary care provider.

  • Summer cold – Although colds and flu are more common during the cold-weather months, there are still viruses out there during the warm-weather months. Influenza may be somewhat dormant, but watch for COVID-19. It’s still around and is easily spread between people. If you experience COVID-19 symptoms, get tested. If you test positive, follow quarantine guidelines to help avoid further spread of the virus.
  • Bicycle injuries – Many Chicagoans look forward to warmer weather so they can dust off their bikes and get outside. But without taking precautions, you can get injured. One of the best ways to avoid serious injury is to always wear a properly fitting helmet. It may also help to brush up on other bike safety tips.
  • Water-related injuries – Sadly, drownings occur every summer. To avoid a tragedy, make sure you keep a close eye on kids when they are near or in water and make sure they always have a lifejacket or appropriate floatation device.

Many people enjoy swimming in Lake Michigan, but there is an undertow that can be dangerous for even the strongest of swimmers. Stick to areas that are designated as safe for swimming.

  • Hiking injuries – Going on a hike is great for your physical and mental health. But it’s also easy to injure yourself when traversing trails or scaling large hills or mountains. When hiking, make sure you always have a cell phone so you can easily call for help if needed. Also consider hiking with a partner. There’s safety in numbers!

NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health is available year-round to address illnesses and injuries and illnesses. Our patients have access to our specialists and other resources to help them get the care they need, when they need it. We are proactive in taking care of your health. To learn more, visit us online or call 630-527-6363.