Emergency room doctors across the U.S. are readying for the hazardous injuries that come with summer activities.
Holy Name Medical Center Co-Director of Emergency Medicine Randy Tartacoff is running down the six most common summer injuries he and other physicians are anticipating.
1. Heat-related illnesses: Tartacoff says these rarely occur outside of summer. They can be life-threatening and are certainly critical. From least to most serious, these are heat-related illnesses and their symptoms.
- Heat rash: Accompanied by a red rash
- Dehydration: Can occur easily particularly in young toddlers and seniors 65 and older, particularly anyone on a diarrhetic medication. Kidney stones are also related to dehydration.
- These are marked by severe one-sided flank pain. On the pain scale, the only two things that are a 10 are kidney stones and labor without anesthesia, Tartacoff said. Five millimeters stones are passed by themselves. Anything larger requires help from physicians.
- Sunburn: A first degree burn is when the skin has a mild redness and hurts when touched. Second degree burns have blisters and can swell.
- Heath cramps: Sweating a lot as if you've been exercising; muscles become painful and cramp or spasm.
- Heat exhaustion: Profusely sweating, generally clammy; can be associated wit nausea and vomiting, continued muscle cramps, dizziness. This is a serious problem that should be addressed in the emergency room. Assuming you're at the beach, get out of the sun and into an air conditioned environment like a car or restaurant. Do not go into the ocean or pool because you could pass out and that could lead to drowning. This can be life-threatening if it progresses.
- Heat stroke: Life-threatening disease accompanied by high body temps above 103F, hot and red skin that may be very dry, pulse is rapid. Often will have a headache and dizziness, nausea and confusion. This can kill and you may pass out. It is an absolute emergency and anyone experiencing heat stroke must be removed from source of heat and taken to hospital. Call 9-1-1 while in an air conditioned environment.
2. Swimming accidents:
- Drowning: Any type of drowning needs to be seen by emergency room doctors. If a person is submerged from 2-4 mins, don’t assume they’re going to be okay even if they start to breathe normally or talk. Pulmonary edema, or fluid in the lung, needs to be assessed by doctors immediately. 9-1-1 must be called.
- Diving accidents: These are true catastrophes and can include cervical spine fractures. These are generally occur when someone is diving into shallow water where they don’t realize it’s shallow. It is a true emergency where people drown. If the person is pulled out, their neck needs to be minimally moved and placed on the ground with something on either side of their head like towels. Call 9-1-1. Any diving accident where you hit your head needs evaluation and minimal movement. Same if you hit your head on the diving board, but now we also worry about head trauma.
- Slip and fall: Kids should never be left alone in a pool. Many will break their arms and fall while running on a pool deck or suffer head trauma and other fractures.
3. Bites and stings:
- Mosquitos bites can get infected but typically can be treated at home.
- Ticks will be removed and preventative treatment begins. If we feel the person has Lyme Disease, we can initiate treatment.
- Bees can cause allergic reactions that can be fatal. Anyone who is allergic to bees should carry an epipen and use it if they have a bee sting.
4. Biking/Playground accidents:
- Tartacoff says he tells people: "I can fix anything except head trauma: so wear your helmets." People will fall off of their bikes and come in with fractures. Head trauma is significantly prevented with the use of helmets. Playground accidents: These result in broken bones. Adult supervision is critical.
6. Boating accidents: Less common because of Bergen County's location.
- These can be catastrophic and result in drowning and multiple system organ injuries. Like driving, no one should be operating a boat impaired. Always wear life jackets, Tartacoff says.
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