To Your Health
CEO, Physicians Regional-Collier Blvd
Few would argue that certain times of the year usher in a renewed focus on health and physical fitness.
Each Jan. 1, the “new year” leads to countless New Year’s Resolutions — whether we adhere to them or not. Exercise, eat healthier, etc.
Though Southwest Florida enjoys a certain amount of “summer” throughout the year, in most northern areas the pools open on Memorial Day weekend. To prepare, countless Americans diet in anticipation of exposing more skin in the months ahead.
Plus, the wise ones buy sunscreen in preparation for the “ray catching” that lies just around the corner.
For those of us in the health care profession, the problem typically isn’t getting a patient started on the right track. The issue is keeping them focused in the weeks and months that lie ahead when, for example, there’s no “Baby New Year” to serve as inspiration.
So, here we are in August. Nothing special you say? I disagree. Now is the perfect time to look at how you are doing in applying some health care basics to your summer fun.
Check out this list. Have you gotten a bit lazy? Are you incorrectly assuming a “base tan” is replacing the need for sunscreen? Have carbonated beverages slowly begun to replace H20 as your beverage of choice? Has your collection of sunglasses dwindled down (i.e. gotten lost), and you now think any old $9.99 pair will do?
Guess what? These basic “Summer Fun Health Care Tips” apply just as much in August as they do in May:
1.) Exposure: Between 10 AM-2 PM, the sun’s rays can get oppressive. This can lead to a full spectrum of sunshine side effects: sunburn, dehydration, dizziness/syncope and skin cancers can all result from excessive sun exposure during midday hours.
2.) Hydration: It cannot be said enough. Sufficient water intake must go hand-in-hand with enduring the summer heat. Most people should probably be consuming about two liters of water per day or more depending on activity level.
3.) Eye Care: Exposing your eyes to extreme brightness can precipitate long-term eye damage and encourage the progression of cataracts. And yes, there is a benefit to polarized lenses as they have a special coating that helps reduce the glare from reflective surfaces. A glare is caused when the sun’s rays reflect off a solid surface or water. Because polarized lenses are treated with a special chemical film that neutralizes the glare, the harmful effects of glare on the eyes is reduced.
4.) Lip Care: SPF lip balm is key in avoiding a sunburn on your lips and subsequent increases in your risk of skin cancers. Given our Southwest Florida location, you have to apply frequently to maintain the benefit during the course of the day.
5.) Skin Protection: Before going out, be sure to cover all exposed areas with 30+ SPF sunscreen — even if you’re not expecting a trip to the pool or the beach. Until you hit SPF 30, you’re really not getting the protection you need.
In addition, reapplying your preferred sunscreen is extremely important. Most lotions lose effectiveness after a few hours under any conditions. Even “waterproof” lotions will decline in effectiveness from routine perspiration.
As for clothing, consider wearing long-sleeve shirts and wide-brimmed hats if you plan on spending the day outside.
Yes, I’m human and just as likely as anyone to become a “lazy” or non-compliant patient. Of course, I’m also lucky. As CEO of Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard, I am surrounded by the best health care professionals Southwest Florida has to offer. These extraordinary men and women serve as a constant reminder of the importance of taking all the necessary preventative health measures.
However, at home, my wife (a nurse by trade) has no problem policing our family’s adherence to the important issues listed above. No, her job isn’t always easy, but she fearlessly keeps us dressed appropriately, hydrated, “lotioned up” and ready to go. For you parents who practically have to wrestle your children to the ground to apply sunscreen, you will likely “feel her pain.”
But everyone must do what it takes to enjoy the summer months in a healthy, safe way — and our family is no exception.