Treating Common Summer Ailments
Bee and Wasp Stings
- A bee will leave behind a stinger attached to a venom sac. Try to remove it as quickly as possible. (Wasps don't leave their stingers in the skin after stinging, which means they can sting more than once.)
- Wash the area carefully with soap and water. Do this two to three times a day until the skin is healed.
- Apply an ice pack wrapped in a cloth or a cold, wet washcloth for a few minutes.
- Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain.
- For pain and itching, give an over-the-counter oral antihistamine (for children, check with the child's doctor first).You could also apply a corticosteroid cream or calamine lotion to the sting area.
- A sting anywhere in the mouth warrants immediate medical attention because stings in oral mucous membranes can quickly cause severe swelling that may block airways.
Seek medical care if:
- You notice a large skin rash or swelling around the sting site, or if swelling or pain persists for more than three days, which could indicate an infection.
Get medical help right away if you notice any of the following signs, which may indicate a serious or potentially life-threatening allergic reaction:
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Tightness in throat or chest
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, or face
- Dizziness or fainting
- Nausea or vomiting
Many doctors suggest using the RICE approach — Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation — for treating ankle sprains.
You may need to rest your ankle, either completely or partly, depending on how serious your sprain is. Use crutches for as long as it hurts you to stand on your foot.
Using ice packs, ice slush baths or ice massages can decrease the swelling, pain, bruising and muscle spasms. Keep using ice for up to three days after the injury.
Wrapping your ankle may be the best way to avoid swelling and bruising. You’ll probably need to keep your ankle wrapped for one or two days after the injury and perhaps for up to a week or more.
Raising your ankle to or above the level of your heart will help prevent the swelling from getting worse and will help reduce bruising. Try to keep your ankle elevated for about two to three hours a day if possible.
A rash will usually begin to appear one to two days after coming in contact with poison ivy. If you think that you've come in contact with poison ivy, you need to wash the area with plain cool water as soon as possible. This may help to get some of the oil off your skin.
Products that contain solvents such as mineral oil (brand names: Technu, Zanfel) also may help to remove the poison ivy oil from your skin. Because the oil can remain active for a long time, be sure to wash your clothes, shoes, tools or anything else that may have touched the plant.
Once a rash starts to develop, there are several over-the-counter medications you can use to relieve the itching, including:
- Hydrocortisone creams (brand name: Cortizone-10)
- Calamine lotion
- Antihistamine tablets (one brand name: Benadryl)
- Oatmeal baths
Seek medical care if:
- You have fever over 100 degrees
- The rash covers large areas of your body
- The rash is in your eyes, mouth or on your genital area
- There is pus coming from the blisters
- The rash does not get better after a few days
There are many different kinds of foodborne diseases and they may require different treatments, depending on the symptoms they cause. Illnesses that are primarily diarrhea or vomiting can lead to dehydration if the person loses more body fluids and salts (electrolytes) than they take in.
Replacing the lost fluids and electrolytes and keeping up with fluid intake are important. If diarrhea is severe, oral rehydration solution (such as Ceralyte, Pedialyte or Oralyte) should be drunk to replace the fluid losses and prevent dehydration. Sports drinks such as Gatorade do not replace the losses correctly and should not be used for the treatment of diarrheal illness.
Preparations of bismuth subsalicylate (e.g., Pepto-Bismol) can reduce the duration and severity of simple diarrhea. If diarrhea and cramps occur, without bloody stools or fever, taking an antidiarrheal medication may provide symptomatic relief, but these medications should be avoided if there is high fever or blood in the stools because they may make the illness worse.
Seek medical care if a diarrheal illness is accompanied by:
- High fever (temperature over 101.5° F, measured orally)
- Blood in the stools
- Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
- Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up.
- Diarrheal illness that lasts more than three days
Most nosebleeds look much worse than they really are. Almost all nosebleeds can be treated at home.
If you get a nosebleed, sit down and lean slightly forward. Keeping your head above your heart will make your nose bleed less. Lean forward so the blood will drain out of your nose instead of down the back of your throat. If you lean back, you may swallow the blood. This can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Use your thumb and index finger to squeeze together the soft portion of your nose. This area is located between the end of your nose and the hard, bony ridge that forms the bridge of your nose. Keep holding your nose until the bleeding stops. Don't let go for at least five minutes. If it's still bleeding, hold it again for 10 minutes straight. You can also place a cold compress or an ice pack across the bridge of your nose.
Once the bleeding stops, don't do anything that may make it start again, such as bending over or blowing your nose.
Above content provided by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Family Physicians in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
Posted June 2013