Those who are subject to headaches say-that they are always more severe in hot weather. Indeed, summer headache is one of the minor ailments most prevalent at this season of the year, and mars the joy of living for a good many people.
There are four chief causes of headache in hot weather, and the first has to do with diet. Very few people realise that we need hardly more than half the amount of food in hot weather that we require to sustain us in winter, when heat is rapidly lost from the surface of the body.
The main function of food is to supply heat and energy, and in summer the former need is almost in abeyance when the temperature of the atmosphere is sometimes higher than we desire. The expenditure of energy may or may not be less than in winter. If we take a good deal of exercise, playing games, cycling, walking, or climbing hills, then we need more food than if we lie in hammocks, or loaf on the sands. But most people who complain of headache at this time of year would find that the reduction of food, especially of such heat-giving foods as porridge, suet puddings, fat meat of all sorts, would be the best cure for their aches and pains.
A certain type of headache will result from eating tainted food, or fruit that is over or under ripe. The best way to deal with a headache in such a case is to prescribe a purgative and semi-starvation for forty-eight hours, to give the system time to get rid of poisons.
Eye Headaches are more frequent in summer, because the intense glare of the sun is trying to anyone with the slightest tendency to weak sight. The people who read on the beach with the direct sunlight bearing down upon their book; the travellers who concentrate on newspapers and magazines on a railway journey, will almost certainly suffer from headache caused by eye-strain. The eye is a very delicate organ, finely adjusted, and wonderfully tolerant of strain when it is absolutely normal with regard to vision. But perhaps ninety per cent. of people have defective vision, which may be very slight in degree, yet sufficient to cause fatigue of the eyes and headache whenever there is any extra strain [from intense light. This type of headache should be dealt with by shading the eyes from the glare with dark glasses, a broad-brimmed hat, and a parasol. Care should be exercised that the eyes are not over-fatigued, and that any reading is done, not facing the sunlight, but with the rays coming over the back of the shoulder on to the book.
Headaches, in the third place, may be due to fatigue. The tendency with people at this time of year is to curtail the hours of sleep, to go in for more exercise, to work harder on holiday than when in harness at home. The result is that such people become fatigued, easily tired, irritable, subject to headache. They feel that their long-anticipated holiday is not doing them much good, but they do not realise that by the simple expedient of rest they could cure their headaches and regain their physical energy at the same time. It is absolute folly to rush about during the holiday, tiring one-self mentally and physically in the mistaken idea of doing and seeing as much as possible. The real aim of a holiday should always be kept in sight - namely, health. A holiday that does not make one healthier, stronger physically and mentally, has been a failure. And a constant slight headache and lassitude should be taken as signs that one is not holidaying in the right way
A Word of Warning
Although it is a mistake to blame every summer headache upon the heat, there is no doubt that a certain number of headaches at this season are due to the action of the sun's rays. Some people are certainly more susceptible to heat than others, but if they are careful to eat less than in winter, to take sufficient, but not violent, exercise, they will counteract their natural tendency to suffer from the heat. They should also choose a bracing place, rather than one which is enervating and relaxing. They should rest a good deal during the day, and not expose themselves unnecessarily to the blaze of sunshine.
Violent rowing exercise during the hot hours of the afternoon, when the sun is beating steadily down upon the head and neck and shoulders will almost inevitably cause a headache to any but the most robust. In the same way long, tiring tennis sets, cycling along hot, dusty, sun-baked roads, even walking during the hot parts of the day, all predispose to headache and fatigue. Those who are subject to heat headache, and slight attacks of sunstroke, should do everything in their power to keep cool, and protect themselves from the direct sunlight.
Wear suitable dress and head-gear. The old-fashioned sun-bonnet is excellent for the purpose, and a large sun-umbrella is much more protective than a flimsy parasol. A certain amount of perspiration is desirable in hot weather, but it is unwise to drink long, copious draughts of water, with the idea of keeping cool and counteracting the heat. More water is required in summer than winter, and lemon drinks, barley-water, rice-water and weak tea are useful beverages for quenching thirst.
Daily bathing, either in the sea or at home, with frequent sponging with cold water, cold douches to the back of the neck and spine, and applications of cold to the forehead, all help to ward off headaches in hot weather.
How to Deal with Summer Headaches
When headache occurs, the wisest course is to lie down in a cool, dark room with the windows wide open. Cold applications to the head will be found useful, and a cup of rather strong tea or coffee acts as a stimulant, and often cures a headache in the early stages, especially when it is due to fatigue. Rest and light diet for perhaps twenty-four hours should be the rule, and definite precautions must be taken afterwards to guard against further attacks.
Of other aches and pains which are apt to afflict one on holiday, toothache is perhaps the most common. Which of us has not experienced the despair attending a sharp attack of toothache on the very day we had anticipated enjoyment and recreation ? Causes of Toothache
There is no doubt that toothache due to decay of the teeth has increased of late years. In pre-civilised days the probability was that the pain of toothache was unknown. But in this country, at the present day, there are very few people who have not experienced toothache before they reach the age of twenty-five. Perhaps one reason why toothache is rather apt to be prevalent in summer is that people are more run down at such times, just as after serious illness any weakness of the teeth makes itself apparent. Defects or crevices in the teeth are apt to become deeper, the "nerve" becomes exposed, irritated, and inflamed, when "toothache" appears.
One of the original causes of toothache is certainly neglect. The people who imagine that cleansing the teeth once or even twice a day is all that is required of them will have to pay the penalty later on of acid fermentation in the mouth, due to the accumulation of small particles of food about the teeth. Associated with fermentation is the presence of microbes or bacteria, which gradually destroy the enamel and dentine, and expose the pulp of the tooth. A tooth will not decay so long as its strong surface coating of enamel is untouched. Any crack in the enamel, however, permits the entrance of microbes to the softer dentine, which, in its turn, surrounds the cavity of the tooth. Treatment of Toothache
In the "cavity" lies the pulp, which is a mass of small blood-vessels and nerves which give life to the tooth. Thus, when people say that a nerve is exposed, they mean that there is an opening through the tooth to the centre, where the pulp lies. The microbes attack the tiny filaments, or nerves, these become inflamed, a message of pain is sent along the course of the nerve to the brain, and the sufferer can personally vouch for the meaning of toothache.
In summer, the eating of ices, the swallow ing of iced drinks, will cause irritation of any weak teeth. Intensely hot and intensely cold liquids are very bad for the enamel, which is apt to crack in certain places, and this is the beginning of destruction of the teeth. Summer chills, also, will produce toothache if there is any existing weakness or decay of the teeth.
What is the best treatment for summer toothache, and the quickest way to stop the pain ?
Those who are subject to toothache should always take some toothache remedy with them on holiday. A small bottle of creosote will answer the purpose. A little piece of cotton-wool is dipped in this and placed in the cavity of the tooth, whilst another pledget of wool should be placed on the top to keep it in place.
Rinsing the mouth with hot carbolic lotion (1 in 100) will ease the pain. A chemist should be asked to make up the lotion in the correct proportion, as carbolic is a poison. Whenever possible, a visit should be made to the dentist, as any holes in the teeth should be stopped, and if there is a decayed stump causing inflammation and suppuration, the tooth will have to be dealt with at once. The best plan is to visit the dentist regularly once in six months, whether one imagines the teeth require attention or not, as, when toothache appears, the teeth are very much damaged, and a small stopping in the early stages will often increase the life of a tooth by five or ten years. The existence of toothache proves that the sensitive pulp is exposed, and the ache will reappear at regular intervals until the pulp is destroyed by inflammation, by which time the tooth is, to all intents and purposes, killed. The whole health and appearance are so much dependent upon sound teeth that no one should neglect the welfare and hygiene of the teeth. The teeth should be cleansed after every meal, and the mouth rinsed with clean cold water, which acts as a tonic to the gums. The effect of diet upon the teeth will be considered subsequently in a general article on the subject of teeth.