Being outside and experiencing the great outdoors is something that everyone should partake in. The therapeutic elements of nature and the ability to breathe in that fresh air is something that gives off incredible vibes, unlike any other. However, though Mother Nature is certainly beautiful whichever direction you look, there is the inevitable fact that it can also be quite dangerous. With that being said, here are some illnesses that can arise from being outside and how to prevent them from happening to you.
1. Sun Poisoning
This one you may already be aware of, but it is still worth noting. This is when you are outside too long with unprotected, exposed skin. You can still get badly sunburned without getting sun positioned, but if you do, that burn can turn into something much more severe. Aside from the painful red skin, you will experience dehydration, fever, headaches, eye damage, nausea, and possible fainting episodes. Furthermore, it only takes one bad sunburn to completely distort your DNA, leaving you susceptible to various kinds of cancer such as melanoma and carcinoma.
Preventing this from happening: Wear sunscreen every time you go outside, wear a hat, sunglasses, and seek shade frequently.
2. Acute Mountain Sickness
This is also often referred to as altitude sickness. If you are going on a hike up a trail that goes 8,000 feet or above (like the Rocky Mountains or other mountain ranges in Ecuador or Peru), you are more likely to experience this. You will know you have acute mountain sickness if you are hiking and start to get a headache and feel as though you have a hangover. In severe cases, it could even be fatal because it can cause fluids to build up in your lungs and in your brain.
Preventing this from happening: If you are hiking or have reached the top of your destination and are experiencing the milder symptoms, take it easy and give your body time to adjust to the decreased oxygen levels. If you still have more hiking to go and feel dizzy or faint, then it is your body telling you it’s time to turn back around and descend. Symptoms often go away when you begin to lower down in elevation.
3. Tick and Mosquito-Borne Illnesses
This is a concern for anyone going outside in the woods in prime bug season (such as spring and summer). Ticks and mosquitos are known to carry an array of illnesses such as Lyme disease and the West Nile virus. People who get bit tend to suffer from a red, itchy mark for a few days. Those who obtain an illness from that said bite could start to experience other issues, such as a fever, convulsions, inflammation of the brain, and many other unpleasant effects.
Preventing this from happening: Use a high-quality bug spray to deter insects from biting and transmitting diseases to you. If you do get bit by a tick, consult your doctor immediately to get a Lyme disease prevention shot. If bit by a mosquito, keep an eye on your symptoms and the site to make sure you are not at risk of more severe issues.
Though this is more common for those who like to go outdoors in the colder months, such as snowboarders or skiers, people in regular camping or hiking trips can get hypothermia too if they are not careful (such as sleeping in wet clothing on the ground). Being exposed to extreme cold weather without the right clothing or provisions, hypothermia can start to set in when your body drops to 95 degrees or lower. When not addressed, it can become even more dangerous because it can slow the rhythm of your heart. Clear signs you could have hypothermia include shivering, confusion, exhaustion, and slurred speech.
Preventing this from happening: Make sure you pack your supplies to combat any cold or wet weather to ensure you stay warm and dry. There are plenty of waterproof, insulated items that can protect your body from being exposed to the harsh elements. If you do find that you are showing the milder signs mentioned above, then seek medical attention and try to raise your temperature, such as drinking a warm beverage. Avoid hot showers or baths during this time, as it can induce shock.
5. Asthma Attacks
Having asthma is not caused from being outside. People either have this condition, or they don't. However, those who do have asthma, being outdoors can trigger asthma attacks due to the pollutants. The warm air, pollination, and rainfalls that stir up mold spores all make for a risky time.
Preventing this from happening: Just because you have asthma does not mean you have to quarantine yourself indoors. Before going out, use your inhaler (and bring it with you), and use a facemask if you feel like the environment is too challenging to breathe without protection.
Remember, there are potential adverse effects with just about anything that you do in life, so do not let this reality stop you from enjoying the sun. This article is not meant to sway you from going outside and living life to the fullest. It is merely here to let you know that illnesses can arise if you do not take the proper precautions while outdoors. As long as you are aware of the potential risks, respect nature's good and bad sides, use the right protection, you will be able to stay as safe as possible each time you venture out.