Heading outdoors? Cork GP shares summer tips

Cork GP Dr Philip Kieran shares his no-nonsense advice to look after health and wellbeing this summer - from sun safety, to staying hydrated and boosting your immune system
Heading outdoors? Cork GP shares summer tips

Cork GP Dr Philip Kieran.

AS the evenings stretch more each day, and the vaccine rollout continues, we’re all looking forward to relaxing this summer and making the most of any fine weather we can get.

So, after months of staying inside, what are the best ways to prepare ourselves for a season in the great outdoors?

Dr Philip Kieran is a Cork-based GP and a regular contributor to TV and radio shows. He also co-hosted You Should Really See a Doctor on RTÉ.

He believes people will be determined to get out in the fine weather more than ever: “We’re so excited at getting out in the fresh air — even if there are some travel limits still in place —that it’s easy to forget some of the basic health tips that apply, whether or not we’re living in unusual times. Stick to my advice on the basics and you’ll be on your way to enjoying your summer as much as possible”.

Start supporting your immune system now

Vitamin D has been making headlines for months because of the debate over the role it may play in fighting off a coronavirus infection.

Whatever the final decision may be, vitamin D is definitely good at supporting the general immune system and deficiency rates are high in Ireland. A supplement can be a great source of this valuable nutrient.

A probiotic supplement is another great way of boosting your gut health, which we’re learning plays a really important role in immunity. I often recommend probiotic supplements to my patients and many have had great results.

I’ve actually started taking a product that combines a unique 35624 culture and a dose of Vitamin D in one myself - it’s called Alflorex Immune. The combination of the two ingredients can help ensure your immune system is as strong as possible.

Prepare your defences against seasonal allergies

For most people, this relates to hayfever, in its many forms. The hayfever season is kicking off now as plants begin to release their pollen, and will continue until well into September.

You may have allergies to one or more types of pollen, which will dictate which part of the season affects you most severely.

Your GP and pharmacist can advise on the best preventative or relieving product to help you, but there are some practical tips to minimise the pollen impact.

Try to dry your clothes - and bed clothes - indoors if possible.

Keep windows closed during the day if it’s not too hot. Limit your exposure to the pollen if you know which type affects you the most, eg if grass pollen is a problem, delegate lawn-mowing duties. Remember damp weather will limit the amount of pollen in the air, so be aware that dry breezy days may be the ones you should spend indoors, or have the appropriate antihistamines at the ready.

Slip, Slap, Slop, wrap

The HSE has condensed the main sun safety tips into four points: Slip on a long-sleeved t-shirt, slap on a hat with a wide brim to protect the back of your neck too, slop on the sunscreen regularly, and wrap on a good pair of sunglasses.

Most smartphones have apps now that tell you the predicted temperatures and UV levels a few days in advance, which is helpful but there’s no guarantee they’ve got it right.

Get in the habit of applying sunscreen every day during the summer months, and reapply every few hours if you’re outdoors.

The risks of sunburn don’t fade with the redness and peeling - you could be paying the price in the years to come with a skin cancer diagnosis.

Hydrate mind and body

People in Ireland are getting better at looking after their water intake but there’s still room for improvement. As the mercury rises - even a little - this summer, make sure you increase your water intake to match.

Even low levels of dehydration can impact on how you’re feeling, causing fatigue, headaches and a sensation of mental fogginess. Considering many of us are working at home, we’re less likely to take a break and chat with someone at the office water cooler, and most homes aren’t air-conditioned either.

Try to make a concerted effort to get through a few glasses of water a day, and then add another on top of that.

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