Summertime is a season of fun and adventure which may lead to injuries. Learn how to handle a variety of beach injuries when you have diabetes. Discover why there are no substitutes for prevention and prompt medical care.
- The lure of the bay or ocean can be irresistible on a hot summer day. Unfortunately, jellyfish can be lurking just below the surface. If you get stung, get out of the water right away and seek help if necessary. Stop the stinging for jellyfish found in non-tropical waters by washing the area with seawater. In tropical waters, rinse with vinegar and get immediate medical attention. Never use fresh water, which can reactivate the stinging. In Pacific areas, rinse with vinegar or a baking soda solution, then soak the area in hot water or cover with cold packs until you see a doctor. Do not use vinegar if stung in the Atlantic Ocean. Try a hot water rinse and lidocaine or try to remove the stinging cells and rinse in seawater until you get medical attention. Discomfort can be relieved by using an oral antihistamine or hydrocortisone cream, as well as antibiotic ointment and ice packs. Severe reactions especially when you are allergic can lead to hospitalization, so always seek medical care.
- Burning feet can be caused by walking on hot sand without shoes. Always wear water shoes to the beach. Neuropathy is another cause of burning feet due to damaged nerve fibers. Neuropathy can reduce foot sensation which can make feeling the hot sand impossible. Wearing shoes can also help you avoid cuts and sores from shells, glass, rocks and other debris hidden in the sand. Another cause of burning feet is athlete’s foot, an itchy skin infection caused by fungus. Use an over-the-counter spray or powder to treat athlete’s foot and consult with a doctor if it does not resolve. Keep your water shoes or flip flops on while in a public restroom or shower at the beach to reduce the chance of getting athlete’s feet. Wear breathable shoes and socks without seams after you wash you feet. Avoid getting sand or rocks in your shoes and always check them for irritants before you put them on. If you have burning feet, seek medical treatment immediately to determine the cause and proper treatment.
- Splinters are another common injury when you walk barefoot or in open sandals on the boardwalk. Always wear properly fitted shoes and socks. Splinters open the door to infection and can be particularly dangerous in your feet where they may go undetected. Examine your feet each day to look for cuts, sores and splinters. If you get a splinter, soak your foot in warm, salty water to see if it can be gently pulled out with pointed-tip sterilized tweezers. If it comes out easily, cleanse the area and apply antibiotic cream and a bandage. Never poke or prod the splinter which may cause it to go deeper into your skin. Seek medical care if there is swelling, warmth, inflammation and/or redness in the area.
- Summer foods are tempting, but often salads with mayonnaise can spoil quickly in the heat. With diabetes, your immune system may be compromised which could lead to possible food poisoning. Put foods away immediately after serving to avoid the growth of bacteria. Maintain proper blood sugar levels, as high blood sugar can increase your risk of getting food poisoning; food poisoning can also wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels and lead to dehydration. Symptoms may include nausea, fever, sweating, diarrhea, vomiting and an upset stomach. Contact a doctor immediately if these symptoms do not disappear. Stay away from questionable food stands and beachfront restaurants that might not be observing proper hygiene habits.
- A long day at the beach can lead to dehydration especially when drinking alcohol. People with diabetes are at a higher risk of dehydration with heightened blood sugar levels. Symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, fatigue, thirst, dizziness, dry eyes, headache and dark yellow urine. Drink plenty of calorie-free beverages and water throughout your day at the beach to remain hydrated. Caffeinated beverages and sugary drinks can also increase dehydration. Try nibbling on watery fruits and vegetables to stay hydrated. If dehydration occurs you might require treatment that includes electrolytes, insulin and an IV of saline.
- Heat exhaustion is another injury you may be at risk of developing at the beach. Always wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30+. Put on a hat and sunglasses. Find a shady spot or put up a beach umbrella where you can stay cool. Take along a first aid kit filled with wound care products. Being well-prepared makes a big difference. Know the symptoms of heat exhaustion, including dizziness, sweating, muscle cramps, fainting, clammy skin, rapid heartbeat, nausea and headaches. If you have any of these symptoms, move to a cooler location, preferably with air conditioning. Seek medical attention promptly.
When it comes to beach injuries, prevention is the best cure. If you do get injured, seek medical attention right away. With a bit of preparation, you can enjoy a great day at the beach!