CPH physicians give advice about summer safety
Thursday, July 8, 2010 - 5:04 pm

POTSDAM -- Canton-Potsdam Hospital physicians Kris VanWagner, ophthalmologist, and Syed Rehman, internal medicine, are getting the word out about the importance of summer safety.

In addition to general advice, Canton-Potsdam Hospital will be passing out sunblock at Potsdam's Summer Festival on Friday and Saturday.

Vacations, gardening, boating, camping, swimming, and outdoor sports are just some of the many events people look forward to doing during the summer months. Sunburn, melanoma, eye damage, and heat stroke may not be on the list, but could be a part of summer without proper precautions.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has named July as National UV Safety Month.

“UV block for the eyes is extremely important to prevent cancers, such as basal cell and squamous cell, that very commonly affect the skin around the eye (the thinnest skin in the body),” noted Dr. VanWagner. “There is some evidence as well to support regular UV block protects the eyes from macula damage (area of the retina used to see centrally). Those with macular degeneration should take extra precautions as they have an increased risk of damage from UV exposure,” said VanWagner.

Dr. Syed Rehman shared his concern for those who work and play in the sun. He advises individuals to pay attention to the heat index and take the necessary precautions to stay cool. Limiting sun exposure from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., applying and reapplying sunblock, drinking plenty of water and hydrating sports drinks, and wearing protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses will help ensure a safe summer.

“If an individual shows signs of heat-related stress including muscle cramps, headaches dizziness, and dry mouth, move them to a shady or cool environment, encourage them to drink some water and call a physician. Call 911 immediately if a person exhibits irritability, fatigue, vomiting, rapid or weak pulse, rapid or shallow breathing, or stops sweating with hot dry skin (which means the body has lost ability to regulate itself). In addition, individuals should pay special attention to skin changes and consult a pharmacist regarding medication and sun interaction,” said Rehman.

“Each body is unique and reacts to heat differently. Some individuals may not be as easily bothered by the heat, while others might display any number of symptoms in addition to those I’ve mentioned. When there is a question of overexposure, individuals should not hesitate to contact their family physician or local hospital,” said Rehman.

In an effort to promote summer health, Canton-Potsdam Hospital will be handing out bottles of sunblock during Summerfest weekend in Potsdam, July 9-11. Look for CPH staff wearing burgundy t-shirts on Friday between 1 and 3 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m.

For question about services provided by Canton-Potsdam Hospital, visit the website at www.cphospital.org.