"You can't go swimming yet ... you just ate. You'll get stomach cramps and drown."
Grandma's claim sounded odd the first time you heard it that hot summer day, but being a kid you certainly didn't question her wisdom. So, did she have a leg to stand on when making that assertion?
For answers to this and a few other summer health claims, read on.
Swimming and eating?
It's true — digestion diverts blood flow to the intestines away from the muscles you use to swim. However, neither the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) nor the American Red Cross offer recommendations when it comes to waiting a specific amount of time to swim after eating.
"Common sense rules," says Madhavi Manubolu, MD, internal medicine physician with Edward Medical Group. "In general, it's a good idea to avoid swimming with an extremely full stomach because it could cause fatigue and nausea. Casual swimming after light meals or snacks is safe."
Ice, butter and sunburns
High exposure to the sun can increase your risk of skin cancer. Given that, we also know the physical and mental importance of outdoor activity in our lives.
Should you go too light on the sunscreen and need to treat sunburn, steer clear of ice and butter as remedies — icing sunburn can lead to frostbite, while butter can hold in heat and make sunburn worse.
"Rely on cool washcloths, plenty of fluids, over-the-counter pain relievers, and either a 100 percent aloe vera gel or mild, unscented moisturizer to soothe skin," suggests Dr. Manubolu.
"Better yet, limit sun exposure from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., wear protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses, and generously apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher," she added.
Fans and heat stroke
While they may provide comfort, electric fans are not an effective way to prevent heat-related illnesses. Heat stroke, for instance, occurs when your body is unable to cool itself down. Blowing more hot air on you is no way to prevent heat stroke.
So if you're feeling any of the warning signs of heat stroke (high body temperature, red/hot/dry skin, nausea, confusion, headaches, etc.), don't settle for sitting in front of a fan. Instead, Dr. Manubolu suggests you take these precautions to head off heat-related illnesses:
- Take a cool shower or bath
- Wear lightweight clothing
- Drink cool beverages
- Move to an air-conditioned place, even if only for a few hours
Primary care providers with Edward Medical Group will be glad to address safety questions and concerns you and your family may have at any time, during any season. Like you, our number one concern is helping your family stay healthy and happy. To find your "Dr. Right" go to www.edwardmedicalgroup.org
Here's some great advice regardless of age or swimming ability: The AAP feels strongly that you should never — even for a moment — leave children alone near open bodies of water.