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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Health Talk: Philippine's Summer Diseases

Doctors are warning the public against the prevalence of summer diseases like diarrhea, sun burn, sore eyes and heat stroke as temperatures are expected to be warmer than average during the dry season due to the El NiƱo phenomenon.


Diarrhea is an increase in the frequency of bowel movements or a decrease in the form of stool (greater looseness of stool). Although changes in frequency of bowel movements and looseness of stools can vary independently of each other, changes often occur in both.

What are common causes of acute diarrhea?

The most common cause of acute diarrhea is infection--viral, bacterial, and parasitic. Bacteria also can cause acute food poisoning. A third important cause of acute diarrhea is starting a new medication.

What are the complications of diarrhea?

Dehydration occurs when there is excessive loss of fluids and minerals (electrolytes) from the body due to diarrhea, with or without vomiting.

Electrolytes (minerals) also are lost with water when diarrhea is prolonged or severe, and mineral or electrolyte deficiencies may occur. The most common deficiencies occur with sodium and potassium. Abnormalities of chloride and bicarbonate also may develop.

How is diarrhea treated?

Absorbents. Absorbents are compounds that absorb water. Absorbents that are taken orally bind water in the small intestine and colon and make diarrheal stools less watery.

Anti-motility medications are drugs that relax the muscles of the small intestine and/or the colon. Relaxation results in slower flow of intestinal contents. Slower flow allows more time for water to be absorbed from the intestine and colon and reduces the water content of stool. The two main anti-motility medications are loperamide (Imodium), which is available without a prescription, and diphenoxylate (Lomotil), which requires a prescription


Sunburn results from too much sun or sun-equivalent exposure. Almost everyone has been sunburned or will become sunburned at some time. Anyone whovisits a beach, goes fishing, works in the yard, or simply isout in the sun can get sunburn

Sunburn Symptoms

- Mild and uncomplicated cases of sunburn usually result in minor skin redness and irritation. Untreated and with enough exposure, you can experience shock (poor circulation to vital organs) and even death (sun poisoning). Sufficient exposure can become remarkably painful.
- Initially, your skin turns red about 2-6 hours after exposure and feels irritated. The peak effects are noted at 12-24 hours.
- More severe cases (sun poisoning), such as those experienced by rafters (Cuban and other island peoples fleeing their countries on homemade rafts) are complicated by severe skin burning and blistering, massive fluid loss (dehydration), electrolyte imbalance, and infection.

Sunburn Treatment

Self-Care at Home

1. Get out of the sun
2. Cover exposed skin
3. Get out of the tanning bed
4. Medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are useful, especially when started early.
5. For mild sunburn, cool compresses with equal parts of milk and water may suffice. You may also use cold compresses with Burow solution. You can buy this at a drugstore. Dissolve 1 packet in 1 pint of water. Soak gauze or a soft clean cloth in it. Gently wring out the cloth and apply to the sunburned area for 15-20 minutes. Change or refresh the cloth and solution every 2-3 hours.
6. Cool (not ice cold) baths may help. Avoid bath salts, oils, and perfumes because these may produce sensitivity reactions. Avoid scrubbing the skin or shaving the skin. Use soft towels to gently dry yourself. Don't rub. Use a light, fragrance-free skin moisturizer.
7. Avoid lotions that contain topical anesthetic medications because you can become sensitized and then allergic to that medicine.


Common terms used for Conjunctivitis are often “sore eyes” or Pink Eye. Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the thin covering of the eyeball and inner eyelid. The inflammation is brought on by a viral, bacterial, or allergy infection. However, sore eyes are generally due to a viral infection.

Extremely contagious, it spreads easily by eye to hand to eye contact, a runny nose or cough, or when people come into contact with a contaminated surface or object. If severe enough or long lasting, it can eventually lead to corneal scarring that can cause glare and decreased vision. Experts recommend not going to work or school if you have sore eyes or symptoms of sore eyes until symptoms are relieved and treatment is successful.

Sore Eye Symptoms

Redness of the eyes
Gritty sensation
Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
Difficulty opening eyes after sleeping
Eyelids stuck together after sleeping
Water-like discharge

Other signs and symptoms that are accompanied by the sore eyes include:

Runny nose
Sore throat
Lymph glands are sore

Treatment for Sore Eyes

- The best thing you can do for yourself and your condition if you are having any signs or symptoms of sore eyes is to seek medical attention. Your eye doctor (Optometrist or Ophthalmologist) may prescribe you anti-inflammatory or antibiotic eye drops or ointment.
- Antiviral medications might also be in store. To relieve discomfort at home, you can try applying warm compresses to your eyes for 5-10 minutes three times a day.

Preventing Sore Eyes

- Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water is a great start. Avoid touching your eyes and face when you haven’t washed your hands.
- Do not share towels, eyeglasses, sunglasses, or make-up/cosmetics, as this may only lead to transfer of an infection.
- If you have had symptoms of sore eyes, and have been using any cosmetics, especially ones that are applied to your eyes or in the area of your eye, it’s best to discontinue and discard those products.
- If you are not the one infected, but someone close is, make sure to disinfect and wash all surfaces, clothes, towels, pillow cases, and anything else that may have come into contact with that person to reduce the chance of transfer.
- If other symptoms are occurring besides the ones involving the eyes, it is best to stay away from others to prevent the spread of infection until the symptoms are relieved and treatment is successful.


What is heat stroke?

Heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia, an abnormally elevated body temperature with accompanying physical and neurological symptoms. Unlike heat cramps and heat exhaustion, two other forms of hyperthermia that are less severe, heat stroke is a true medical emergency that can be fatal if not properly and promptly treated. Heat stroke is also sometimes referred to as heatstroke.

What are heat stroke symptoms and signs?

Symptoms of heat stroke can sometimes mimic those of heart attack or other conditions. Sometimes a person experiences symptoms of heat exhaustion before progressing to heat strokes.

- nausea
- vomiting
- fatigue
- weakness
- headache
- muscle cramps and aches and
- dizziness.

However, some individuals can develop symptoms of heat stroke suddenly and rapidly without warning.

Different people may have different symptoms and signs of heatstroke. But common symptoms and signs of heat stroke include:

- high body temperature
- the absence of sweating, with hot red or flushed dry skin
- rapid pulse
- difficulty breathing
- strange behavior
- hallucinations
- confusion
- agitation
- disorientation
- seizure, and/or
- coma.

How do you treat a heat stroke victim?

Victims of heat stroke must receive immediate treatment to avoid permanent organ damage. First and foremost, cool the victim.

1. Get the victim to a shady area, remove clothing, apply cool or tepid water to the skin (for example you may spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose), fan the victim to promote sweating and evaporation, and place ice packs under armpits and groin.

2. Monitor body temperature with a thermometer and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101 to 102 F (38.3 to 38.8 C).

3. Always notify emergency services (911) immediately. If their arrival is delayed, they can give you further instructions for treatment of the victim.

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