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Orange Regional Medical Center Reminds You to Keep Summer Fun Safe

August 8, 2006

(Middletown, NY) If playing sports, camping, hiking and sunbathing are just a few of your favorite summer activities, playing it smart in advance can keep you on your feet all summer long. Two serious health concerns that arise each summer are Lyme Disease and heat stroke.

Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection acquired by the bite of an infected deer tick and while not contagious, can be detrimental to one’s health. Dr. Mitchell Strand, emergency department physician at Orange Regional Medical Center says, “If you find a tick on your body, you must remove it quickly and carefully. Should you notice a circular rash, joint pain or a fever, seek immediate medical care at a hospital to avoid further complications.” When caught early, treatment with antibiotics will cure the disease. If unnoticed or improperly treated, problems with the skin, heart, joints and nervous system can occur.

Simple steps can help reduce your chance of a tick bite. Remember that ticks need to be attached for more than 24 to 36 hours to pass on the disease, if they are infected. Stay in the middle of trails when walking in the woods and keep clear of areas heavily populated by deer; wear insect repellent during summer outdoor activities; tuck pants into socks and completely cover extremities when hiking or camping; do a daily ‘tick check’ on you, your children and pets, and if found, remove promptly and carefully. If you are unsure of what type of tick you may have, the Orange County Department of Health website offers tips and can assist you in getting the insect identified.

Any individual spending long periods of time outdoors in the sun without adequate protection and fluids is at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Symptoms begin to occur when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. Body temperature rises and the ability to sweat fails, leaving the body unable to cool down. When organs overheat, it is possible that they will stop working and cause serious damage to the body. “Any change in mental status, confusion or behavior can be a sign of heat stroke,” says Dr. Strand. “Dizziness, weakness, rapid heartbeat, upset stomach and lack of sweating are signs that medical help is necessary. High temperatures can be dangerous to anyone, but infants and the elderly are much more susceptible to extremes of heat. Anyone experiencing symptoms of heat stroke should seek emergency department assistance to correct the effects of dehydration and treat related symptoms.”

Heat, humidity, direct sun exposure, physical exertion and even some medications can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Individuals with certain medical conditions have a higher risk of heat stroke and should take extra precautions while outdoors. Some of these conditions include: heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Avoiding the outdoors during the hottest time of day, staying in a cool area, wearing loose clothing and drinking plenty of water can help prevent heat-related illness.

Planning ahead, staying informed of risks and having the knowledge to spot early signs of poor health will keep you and your family safe and healthy this summer.

For a complete list of Orange Regional’s services or to find community education classes and clinics related to improving your health and safety, go to www.ormc.org or call the Orange Regional Health Connection at 1-888-321-ORMC (6762).

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