Summer time and the midges are biting, but there’s no need to go to hospital. Pictures by Bill Heaney

By Lizzie Healey

Summer has arrived at last and although most of us love the warmer weather, the change in temperature can bring along many health risks.

Very few of these simple summer health conditions need a trip to A&E and the Health Board is urging patients to seek treatment in the right place.

Last summer, local hospitals saw a 58% rise in people attending A&E with simple insect bites and stings.

Dr Linda de Caestecker, NHSGGC’s Director of Public Health said: “Many patients attending A&E in the summer months have simple stings and bites. Clearly, unless these cause a severe reaction such as anaphylaxis, they can be treated at home, by a pharmacist or at one of our MIUs.

“By following very simple guidelines, most stings can be treated at home. Traditional home remedies, such as vinegar and bicarbonate of soda should be avoided as they’re unlikely to help.”

To treat an insect bite or sting:

  • Remove the sting or tick if it’s still in the skin.
  • Wash the affected area with soap and water.
  • Apply a cold compress (such as a flannel or cloth cooled with cold water) or an ice pack to any swelling for at least 10 minutes.
  • Raise or elevate the affected area if possible, as this can help reduce swelling.
  • Avoid scratching the area, to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Avoid traditional home remedies, such as vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, as they’re unlikely to help.
  • The pain, swelling and itchiness can sometimes last a few days. Ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter treatments that can help, such as painkillers, creams for itching and antihistamines.  

Last summer alone, 1239 patients people a day attended one of the local A&E or Minor Injuries Units – an overall rise of 4% on 2017.

Dr de Caestecker added: “Hospitals are very busy places all year round, not just in Winter and A&E staff deal with life threatening emergencies, like strokes and heart attacks. People suffering from summer symptoms like dehydration, stings and hayfever should treat themselves at home or visit their local pharmacy.

“Pharmacists are available on your local high street and are trained clinicians who can provide expert advice on how to help manage illnesses, as well as providing guidance on the best treatments.

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Not quite a scene from Havoc, but the danger of insect bites is still there wherever you go on holiday this year. Picture by Bill Heaney

“NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is in the fortunate position of having dedicated, nurse-led Minor Injury Units (MIUs) at Stobhill, the New Victoria and Vale of Leven Hospitals, where 100% of patients are usually seen and treated within four hours.

“MIUs can treat cuts and grazes, insect bites, minor burns, sprains and strains, limb injuries like a broken ankle, broken wrist etc and foreign bodies in ears or up noses.

However, they are unable to treat more serious conditions such as major injuries, poisoning, fever, breathing difficulties stomach pains, vomiting or diarrhoea, rashes or allergic reactions.”

There are four adult Emergency Departments within Greater Glasgow and Clyde – at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley and Inverclyde Royal Hospital in Greenock. All adult ED departments also have facilities to treat minor injuries but patients will always be seen quicker at the stand-alone MIUs.

Being prepared can prevent you feeling unwell and help to keep you safe this summer whether you are down at Brucehill Shore or Barcelona:

  • Ensure you wear cool clothing
  • Drink cold drinks regularly such as water or squash
  • Try and stay out of the heat between 11am to 3pm
  • Make sure you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet so you can self-treat if needed


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