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Fresh air is often seen as a cure-all, but there are times when being outdoors can cause or exacerbate illness. Due to this, it’s important to know when to stay at home more often and what precautions you can take to avoid becoming unwell when you spend time outdoors. To protect your well-being, take a look at these six ailments to watch out for when you’re enjoying the great outdoors:

1. Hay Fever

Also known as seasonal rhinitis, hay fever typically occurs during the spring and summer months when the pollen count is at its highest. People with hay fever have an allergy to tree, grass, and/or weed pollen, which is why spending time outdoors can trigger symptoms.

If you experience hay fever, you may have a variety of symptoms, including coughing and sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, earache, a runny or blocked nose, itching around the nose, mouth, or ears, and/or headache.

As you might imagine, hay fever can seriously impact your ability to enjoy spending time outside but there are effective treatment options out there. Some people can benefit from taking an antihistamine to reduce symptoms, for example, while severe hay fever can be treated via immunotherapy.

2. Pneumonia

Pneumonia occurs when lung tissue becomes inflamed and can be caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. In addition to this, aspiration pneumonia can occur when food or liquid is accidentally inhaled into the lungs. Antibiotic or antiviral medication can be used to treat pneumonia, depending on the cause of the infection and most patients won’t need inpatient hospital treatment.

However, going outside is usually not advised when you have pneumonia. Firstly, bacterial and viral pneumonia can be contagious, which means that you could infect other people if you go out and about when you’re unwell (this may also be how you caught the condition). In addition to this, cold, dry, and/or polluted air can exacerbate respiratory conditions and may temporarily worsen your symptoms. For this reason, it’s advisable to stay at home, rest, and follow a personalized treatment plan following a diagnosis of pneumonia. For more information on the causes and treatment of pneumonia, visit Patient. Their information is put together by doctors and healthcare professionals, so it is a reliable site to refer to.

3. Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a potentially serious condition that’s caused when patients are bitten by an infected tick. When this happens, borrelia burgdorferi bacteria is transferred, which causes Lyme disease to develop. The symptoms of Lyme disease can vary from person to person, which is why it can be difficult to diagnose. However, a flat, circular rash with a bullseye appearance can be a tell-tale sign of the condition. Patients may also report muscle aches, joint pain, headaches, fatigue, fever, and difficulty concentrating when they’re affected by Lyme disease.

As the condition is triggered by a tick bite, you can protect yourself by taking extra precautions when you’re outside, particularly in wooded areas. By covering your skin and using insect repellent, for example, you can reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease.

4. Asthma

Asthma is a common respiratory condition that affects the airways that transport air in and out of the lungs. There are various different types of asthma, such as allergic asthma, exercise-induced asthma, and occupational asthma, which means that patients can have different triggers and symptoms.

Although asthma can’t be cured, it can be managed. Treatment usually involves quick-relief inhalers, known as bronchodilators, and long-term medicines that reduce lung inflammation. In some cases, patients can also benefit from allergy medicine too. If environmental pollutants trigger your symptoms, making changes to your home and workspace can also help to relieve your symptoms and reduce the likelihood of an attack.

However, if your asthma is exacerbated by cold air, exercise, or environmental contaminants, spending time outdoors could increase your symptoms. Due to this, it’s important to identify the factors that trigger your condition and take steps to minimize your exposure. Additionally, carrying your inhalers and medication with you at all times will help to ensure that you can prevent or minimize the effects of an asthma attack if one occurs.

5. Heatstroke

People tend to spend more time outside when it’s hot and sunny, but they often overlook the risks that this involves. When you spend a lot of time in high temperatures or if you exercise in high temperatures, it can cause your body to overheat. When this happens, your core body temperature rises, and you can easily become dehydrated.

The symptoms of heatstroke can be severe and often include: a temperature of 40 degrees C or higher, nausea and vomiting, rapid breathing, throbbing headache, racing pulse, confusion, slurred speech, and/or flushed skin.

Although heatstroke isn’t uncommon, it can have serious complications and may cause kidney, muscle, heart and/or brain damage. However, you can reduce your risk of developing heatstroke by limiting the amount of time you spend in hot, humid environments. Sitting in the shade, drinking plenty of fluids, and avoiding intense exercise during hotter weather can help to reduce the risk of heatstroke, for example.

If you or someone around you begins to show signs of heatstroke, seek medical attention as quickly as possible. Placing cool, damp towels on the patient’s skin or spraying them with cool water may be advisable but a medical practitioner will be able to assess the severity of their symptoms and determine what treatment is necessary.

6. Skin Cancer

Another health risk that comes from spending time outdoors is skin cancer. The sun’s rays are surprisingly powerful, even when it doesn’t seem too hot or bright outside. If your skin isn’t protected, these rays can cause significant damage and lead to the abnormal growth of skin cells. There are numerous types of skin cancer, but basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma are amongst the most common.

Skin cancer often presents as abnormal growth on the outer layer of your skin. You may notice a lesion, raised bump, or a change in an existing mole, for example. Skin cancer growths can also look like an irritated patch of skin, a scar, and/or an open sore that doesn’t heal.

While self-checks can be critical to diagnosing skin cancer, the condition can be hard to spot. By having regular checks with a dermatologist, you can ensure that any potential growths are identified and treated quickly.

To reduce the risk of developing skin cancer, it’s important to protect your skin when you’re outside. By limiting your skin’s exposure to the sun and wearing sun protection, for example, you can prevent the sun’s rays from damaging skin cells and triggering cancerous growth.

Is It Safe to Spend Time Outdoors?

Although some health conditions can be caused or exacerbated by spending time outside, this shouldn’t dissuade you from embracing the great outdoors. When you’re aware of the risks, you can take suitable precautions to keep yourself and others safe. Similarly, understanding any pre-existing illnesses you may have, identifying relevant triggers, and developing a management plan will help to ensure that you can spend time outdoors without becoming unwell.

There are many health benefits associated with spending time outside, so it’s important to balance the pros and cons when deciding which activities to take part in. With the right medical support and protective measures, spending time outdoors can be a great way to enhance your physical health and your mental well-being.

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