The warmth of the sun brings us renewed energy and enthusiasm. We finally get over any lingering viruses, eczema, seasonal depression, fatigue, and all of those other winter or spring onset illnesses. However, this new season brings on a whole new set of illnesses.

Following are several common problems people often encounter in the summer and tips for overcoming them.

  1. Swimmer's Ear: Swimmer's ear is an infection in the outer ear canal. When water remains in your ear after swimming, or even a shower, it may create a moist environment that aids bacterial growth. Here's what you can do to prevent it from occurring or to help a mild infection: After being in the water, tilt your head to one side as you dry that ear thoroughly with a towel then use a blowdryer on the lowest setting to dry out the ear canal. After doing this, mix 3 drops of apple cider vinegar and 3 drops of water or rubbing alcohol and allow it to run into your ear as your head is tilted to the opposite side. Keep your head tilted for a few minutes, then allow the solution to run out as you turn your head to do the other ear. Do this 3 times a day for 3-4 days.

    According to Chinese medicine, you will be prone to swimmer's ear if you have weak digestion (spleen qi deficiency with a damp accumulation) contributing to a damp environment in weakened areas of your body. Drinking fresh or dried ginger tea and cooking with garlic, cumin and/or cinnamon daily will help dry up excess dampness. If you are prone to swimmer's ear and have resorted to antibiotics but the infection has not subsided, acupuncture and herbs may help you. Acupuncture will open up the channels leading to your ear canals and allow them to drain and it will stimulate your immune system to eliminate the bacteria that are hanging around your ears. I also carry herbs to improve your immunity and help combat bacteria for both children and adults. Talk to me if your child gets chronic earaches!

  2. Muscle strain from gardening and yard work: Most of us suffer from this due to improper posture (i.e. hunched over pulling weeds) or repetitive straining movements, such as pruning or digging in clay soil (anyone have that???). To offset any resulting pain and tightness, ice your back or the area of pain for 15 minutes directly following your work and ice 2 more times that day. After the first icing, you can take a bath with 1-2 cups of Epsom salts in it, but be sure to ice again soon after the bath. Also, gently stretch your hamstrings as often as possible. Be sure to breathe and hold the stretch for 30 seconds minimum! Drink water before, during and after your work. If these things don't do the trick, come in for 2-3 sessions of acupuncture to get that pain to leave!
  3. Heat Rash: Prickly heat or heat rash is a common malady in the summer. This is a reaction of the body to excess sweating, which results in red blisters and bumps. This can occur anywhere, but the most common places to find it are those areas that sweat the most, such as the armpits, the back, the shoulder and the forehead. A reaction such as this is a sign of excess internal heat and inflammation. Avoid fried and spicy foods. You will do well with cooling foods such as cucumber and white or green tea. However, a lot of damp cold foods, such as ice cream or large amounts of yogurt won't help at all. Everything in moderation is ok. Be sure to drink water with fresh lemon in it before, during and after being outside.
  4. Seasonal Allergies: Most people who suffer from allergies get them in the spring or fall. However, there are a lucky few who suffer from seasonal allergies all summer long! This pattern is similar to that for swimmer's ear: an accumulation of dampness in areas of weakness. Most people with summer allergies have swollen sinus passages that won't drain. A pattern of this sort will benefit greatly from acupuncture because it directly opens up the pathways that run through your face, nose, eyes, and ears. Acupuncture allows the pathways to drain so infection doesn't set in and if it has, it boosts the immune system so it can overcome infection.

As you enjoy the warmth of the sun, keep yourself as healthy as possible! Contact me for any additional suggestions.

Be well!

Rebecca Abbott, C.Ac. Dipl. OM, M.S.O.M.

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