Summer in the ER: Common Conditions to be Aware Of

With the arrival of the official start of summer, and people already increasing their time and activities outdoors, there has already been a steady flow of patients arriving to emergency departments with injuries resulting from these outdoor and water activities.

But there are several common summertime hazards with symptoms severe enough that patients should seek care in an ER — those that may not be as obvious.

Heat Illness

Michigan and the rest of the United States have already experienced headline-grabbing heat waves this year, causing many to take steps to protect themselves against the effects of heat-illness, when the body can no longer regulate its own temperature. Initial symptoms include dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat, confusion, and even loss of consciousness.


High temps and physical activity can quickly lead to dehydration, especially when coupled with caffeine and alcohol consumption. In addition to excessive thirst and dry mouth, fatigue and deceased sweat and urination are common early symptoms. As the dehydration becomes more severe, lightheadedness and confusion can set in.


Without the necessary level of protection sunburns increase the risk of developing skin cancer over time, but sunburns become severe and require emergency care when the skin is painful, blisters, feels tight or tender, and is accompanied by nausea, fatigue, or even a fever.


Grills, bonfires, and fireworks are a blast and summer staples, but they are also the most common cause of burns. If a burn appears charred, white, or dry, that is the sign of a severe, third-degree burn requiring immediate emergency care to avoid complication and significant scarring.

Environmental Reactions

Time outdoors increases exposure to environmental irritants, especially allergens and insect bites. Individuals’ reactions to certain irritants can become severe enough that patients may start experiencing shallow or labored breathing, dermatitis and other rashes that spread and cause additional complications, along with minor symptoms of congestion, watery eyes, runny nose, and itchy skin.