The Worst Summer Illnesses

June 20, 2021


Summer is the time we all want to be outside, enjoying the sun and playing in the sand. But summer illnesses are always lurking, ready to suck the fun right out of your summertime activities. These are the worst summer illnesses and what you can do to prevent them:

  • Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa)

Swimmer’s ear is an outer ear infection often caused by water left in the ear canal after swimming. This water creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow. You may notice itchiness, redness, or light drainage of the ear at first, but without treatment, this will quickly escalate to severe pain, fever, and a complete ear blockage. To prevent swimmer’s ear in the first place:

  • Keep your ears dry.
  • Don’t swim in areas with high bacteria counts.
  • Don’t put foreign objects inside your ear canal.
  • Don’t let irritants get inside the ear canal.
  • Use eardrops made to keep ears dry. If you can’t find any, try making your own with vinegar and rubbing alcohol.
  • Poison ivy, oak, or sumac rashes

A poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash is caused by an allergic reaction to urushiol, the oily resin found in these plants. Just a light brush against any of these will cause a bright red, itchy rash to appear that may take weeks to fully resolve. The only way to prevent these rashes is to know what poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac look like so you can avoid contact. If you do get one of these rashes, calamine lotion might be your best friend.

  • Summer cold

As if a cold isn’t bad enough on its own, why not add a little sweat to it? Summer colds are the worst, and conventional cold treatments like a hot bowl of soup don’t sound very appealing in the dead heat of summer. Luckily, the same OTC medicines you use for a winter cold will work on summer colds too. The best ways to prevent summer colds are good handwashing practices, covering your mouth when you sneeze (not with your hands!), and avoiding skin-to-skin contact with others.

  • Food poisoning

Since the bacteria that cause food poisoning grows best in the warm, moist summertime heat, cases of food poisoning tend to rise this time of year. There are four steps to preventing food poisoning:

  • Clean all surfaces used for cooking before, during, and after cooking. If you’re at a restaurant, check out their sanitation rating and be observant of safe food practices.
  • Separate raw meat from other foods. This means also using separate cutting boards when you’re preparing meals.
  • Cook all food to the internal temperature recommended by the CDC
  • Keep your refrigerator under 40°F and chill your cooked food as soon as possible, but after no longer than 2 hours (1 hour if it’s over 90 degrees).
  • Asthma & Allergies

Asthma and allergies tend to go hand-in-hand during the summer months. High pollen counts from the abundance of plant life during summer can make allergy sufferers miserable and trigger asthma attacks. To prevent this, those diagnosed with outdoor allergies or asthma should avoid going outside on high pollen count days, use home air filters specifically designed for allergy prevention or asthma care, vacuum and dust frequently, not hang clothes outside to dry, and wash themselves and their clothing as soon as returning indoors if possible.

Make sure your summer is as enjoyable as possible by doing all you can to avoid these common summertime ailments. If you do come down with a summer illness, visit to find your local AFC Urgent Care center. We’ll get you back in the summer sun in no time!


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