Just in time for summer, many states have lifted most of their COVID-19 restrictions and are on the verge of total reopening, if they’re not already there. And a grateful nation is looking forward to pre-pandemic routines of travel, going out to bars and restaurants, and venturing out to socialize with friends and family. But in the excitement, don’t overlook that going out again brings several health risks, particularly at this time of year. Read on to find out more, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.
You Could Get Colds and a Flu
Whether you’ve returned to indoor dining and bar-hopping or are still socializing predominantly outdoors, lowering your mask means you’re at risk for catching the common cold or influenza. Although COVID rates have dropped nationwide, if you have symptoms such as cough, body aches, fever or shortness of breath, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor to see if they recommend COVID testing.
"Because some of the symptoms of flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory illnesses are similar, the difference between them cannot be made based on symptoms alone," says the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. "Testing is needed to tell what the illness is and to confirm a diagnosis."
You Could Get West Nile Virus
Every summer, the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses rises as we spend more time outside. Mosquitoes carry West Nile and other viruses. Use a bug repellent before heading outside for extended periods. If you find formulations that contain DEET to be irritating or greasy, look for a brand that contains picaridin, which is odorless, greaseless and just as effective.
You Could Get Seasonal Allergies
While not a disease you can catch per se, if you’re spending more time outside without a mask, you might experience the respiratory symptoms associated with seasonal allergies to pollen, grasses, plants and flowers. Peak allergy season lasts from May to July, then ragweed blooms to bedevil allergy sufferers through September.
Allergies can cause sneezing, runny nose, itching and coughing. According to the Mayo Clinic, allergies "never" cause body aches or fever, and only "sometimes" cause a new loss of taste or smell-those signs are more suspicious for the flu or COVID. Ask your doctor if you have concerns about any sneezing or wheezing.
You Could Get Lyme Disease
Just like mosquitoes, ticks proliferate during the summer in yards and wooded or grassy areas. According to the CDC, ticks can transmit several diseases by passing bacteria into human skin, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis and babesiosis. They can be treated with antibiotics, but it’s key to spot and remove a tick as soon as possible. Inspect your skin when you come in from an extended period outdoors. Remove any tick you find by grasping it with tweezers held close to the skin. If you develop a fever or rash within 7 days of a tick bite, call your doctor for advice.
You Could Get Heatstroke and Dehydration
Health experts have said it’s OK to be more active and social-although we all got the recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day during the pandemic, right?-and that might increase your risk of overexerting yourself in hot weather. Dehydration is a constant risk when temperatures rise, particularly in people over 50. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. Bring it along with you outdoors and drink regularly. Aim to have five or six cups a day under normal conditions; if you’re exerting yourself, you may need more. And to further protect your health, don’t miss these Signs You’re Getting One of the "Most Deadly" Cancers.