The most frequent pathologies with which patients go to the emergency room during the holiday season are usually acute-onset external conditions and gastrointestinal problems, according to Dr. Juan Costell, head of the emergency department of the Quirónsalud Torrevieja hospital.
One of the main reasons for a hospital visit is otitis, a swelling of the ear due to an infection.
Dr. Costell explains: “Otalgia with a history of recent bathing is usually the reason that requires a more in-depth care consultation. They are usually secondary external otitis due to immersion in swimming pools or in the sea, as is usual at this time of year.”
This type of ear infection, caused by the action of moisture, produces an alteration in the epithelium of the external auditory canal, which in turn causes the germs that are usually in the duct to penetrate, causing the infection.
As for its symptoms, the doctor says that “it manifests as a strong pain in the area and, if the disease progresses, suppuration and narrowness of the ear canal occurs along with a temporary hearing loss, as the inflammation does not let the air through”.
Dr. Costell recommends that, after three or four days, following a visit to the emergency room and treatment with topical antibiotic therapy, the patient should visit an otolaryngologist – ear, nose and throat specialist – since this type of infection can cause numerous problems.
In relation to gastrointestinal problems, Dr. Costell points out that, although the care demand is lower than in cases of otitis, the severity of the condition may even require the patient’s admission to hospital. “Acute gastroenteritis is usually accompanied by vomiting, an increased number of bowel movements, diarrhoea, high fever and oral intolerance. Most of these problems in summer are due to food poisoning, the main danger being severe dehydration, especially in children and the elderly,” he said.
To prevent gastrointestinal problems in summer, hand hygiene is essential before preparing food and consuming, preferably, use freshly prepared or refrigerated food, since the heat can alter its state.
Dr. José Luis Lasaga, head of emergencies at Quirónsalud Alicante, said: “Although these pathologies are present all year round, it is in summer and during the holidays when they manifest themselves in a more recurrent way”.
To know what they are and how we can avoid the most common summer diseases, Dr. Lasaga indicates to pay attention to the following points:
• Dermatological infections – the most frequent are fungal infections and especially so-called athlete’s foot, which occurs after stepping on wet ground previously infected by other people. “To prevent it,” says Dr. Lasaga, “it is important to use flipflops both in swimming pools and showers and dry feet really well. In case of infection, it will be necessary to use a topical antifungal treatment.”
• Diseases related to heat and prolonged exposure to high temperatures without adequate ventilation or hydration is another common issue in the summer. “Its symptoms can range from muscle cramps, dizziness, loss of consciousness, to hyperthermia, hypotension, dehydration and death,” explains the specialist from Quirónsalud Torrevieja. The doctor advises avoiding peak hours of sun, proper hydration and keeping the body cool.
• Sexually transmitted diseases – due to the possible increase in isolated sexual contact without the use of adequate protective measures. To avoid them, Dr. Lasaga advises the use of condoms to minimise the risk of contracting these diseases. “If this happens, go to your doctor to perform the appropriate complementary tests and establish the appropriate treatment,” says the specialist.
• Insect bites and jellyfish stings – in most cases they cause mild symptoms that are usually controlled with physical and anti-inflammatory measures, “although you must not forget to consult with your doctor or go to the emergency services if you have symptoms such as dizziness, loss of consciousness, uncontrolled fever, dyspnoea or chest pain,” says Lasaga.
Finally, to spend a good summer without any health scares the specialists of Quirónsalud Torrevieja and Alicante recommend drinking plenty of fluids, avoiding the hours of increased sun exposure, use of adequate sunscreens, eat a balanced diet, wash hands frequently, and if you travel do not forget any medication you need and if in doubt consult with your usual doctors or the emergency services.