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Christmas Holiday Health Risks

December 07
15:15 2019

Christmas Holiday Health Risks

By: Dr. Abigail Joseph

Tis’ the season where any and everything is permissible; the only time of the year we allow ourselves to indulge, splurge and engage in all things jolly. Indeed the holiday season is a time for travelling, meeting up with family, socializing with friends and is supposed to be a relaxing time for most; however, it has also proven to be one of the most hazardous times of the year both physically, financially and emotionally if not approached with the proper mind frame.

OVER-EATING: Between the black cake, turkey, ham, eggnog, beers, champagne and everything else that is considered “Traditional” each individual even when pacing properly gains between 1-2lbs during the holidays minimum.
Tips: Be mindful of your baseline diseases, take your blood pressure and blood glucose regularly. If you suffer from High Cholesterol REMEMBER that eggnog is made up of pure Cholesterol. Go easy. Nothing is wrong with trying new foods and wanting to eat everything, but be sure to drink a tall glass of cold water to curb your appetite, practice portion control, pace yourself and wait at least 20 minutes before going back for seconds.

FOOD POISONING: Avoid getting sick this Holiday season. There is a noted increase in persons who complain of vomiting and diarrhea around this time of year. This can be attributed to the preparation and storage techniques used.

Tips: Avoid food cross contamination by using separate cutting boards for raw meats and those that are already cooked. Do not pack food too tightly in the fridge as cold air needs to circulate to keep food cool. Pay attention to expiration date of foods when shopping for canned products. Warm food properly and be sure to store in tightly sealed containers.

EXCESSIVE ALCOHOL INTAKE: People generally over-drink during the holidays more than any other time of the year! This is due to the numerous parties and festivities. Society uses alcohol as a way for people to ‘let loose and have fun.” And 40% of people use the holidays as an excuse to drink.

Tips: pace yourself, do not mix drinks, limit yourself to the recommended 4 standard drinks on a single occasion. Make sure that you hydrate also, especially if you are driving. Be mindful that there is tomorrow and all the beers do not have to be finished in this exact moment.

MEDICATION DELINQUENCY: It’s difficult to try to fit in, especially during the holiday season when you are a chronic patient. The holiday season is often a time when patients stop taking their medication or try to modify treatment based on their activities. Forgetting to take your treatment especially if you are a diabetic can have dangerous repercussions, not to mention modifying of your own accord.

Tips: Visit your doctor and get all your medication refilled at the beginning of the month to ensure you have enough to get you through the holidays. Make random checks on your blood glucose and blood pressure. Take your medication to time and as needed. Do not take an excessive amount of treatment in anticipation of your activities. This can have undesirable side effects and can backfire and make you sick.

ACCIDENT & MISHAPS: Holiday related accidents are mainly alcohol-related car accidents and mishaps related to holiday decors.
Tips: Do not put up décor alone, do not leave tools lying around, avoid using multiple extension cords as this is an electrical hazard, wear seat-belts when driving, do no drink and drive. If possible, avoid driving on Christmas Eve – Christmas, New Year’s Eve – New Year’s Day – accidents on these dates are often related to alcohol and speeding.

STRESS/HOLIDAY DEPRESSION: Because the holidays are filled with family events, it is one of the most stressful times of the year, especially for women who do most of the shopping, wrapping and cooking. For some – depression is a common emotional and psychological disorder. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and filled with sensations of loneliness, especially if you are single or widowed. Others miss their loved ones more at this time of year considering that it is one to be shared with family.

Tips: It’s ok to ask for help. Don’t get overwhelmed with doing

EVERYTHING. Make a plan and if it seems like too much, enlist family and friends to help. It’s ok to miss loved ones at Christmas. Try to celebrate their lives rather than mourning their loss. If you are feeling extremely down, talk to someone about your feelings. IF you are already depressed, it is advisable to avoid alcohol as this further depresses your central system.

COMMON COLD: Drastic dips in temperatures can stir up allergies, runny noses and even the occasional cough and cold. It is very common this time of year to experience the Influenza virus and due to the constant migration of people in households, interactions at the stores and the ill practice of not sanitizing our hands, the ‘Flu’ gets really popular this time of year.

Tips: STAY WARM. Be mindful if you are an asthmatic to not be out in the cold too often. Wear proper clothing. If you are sick, stay indoors and stay warm. Practice proper disposal of tissues used to wipe noses and smother sneezes as these are now contaminated with germs. Wash your hands regularly.

FIRES & ELECTROCUTION: Getting caught up in the Holiday spirit, it’s easy to get carried away with the house décor and the external lights. However if not done properly fires can spark easily or someone can get hurt via electrocution. House fires are very common, as well as power shortages due to surges.

Tips: Never use lighted candles near your tree. Always extinguish candles before bed. Do not place your tree near a heat source. Try not to tape broken cords and if you do, be sure to use electrical tape and the proper technique so as to avoid sparks and a fire. Avoid overloading electrical cords and electrical sockets with tree lights. Use outdoor extension cords outside as these are built for external temperatures, moisture and resisting the elements.

CHOKING: Eating at a very rapid pace can allow food particles to go down the wrong passage and cause you to choke. However, while this is a possibility, the emergency room is often times visited with greater frequency due to children choking on button batteries and tiny toy particles and ornaments.

Tips: Be sure to pace yourself while eating, take smaller bites and eat slower. Chew your food properly. Do not hang the smaller ornaments on the lower segment of the Christmas tree. Make sure that button batteries are fastened and that you’ve placed the screw back over covers. Pay attention to the age ranges on toy boxes, especially when tiny particles are involved so as to avoid suffocation, accidental choking of parts or insertion in nose or ear canal.

HEART ATTACKS: There exist a noticeable increase of heart attacks during the holiday season. Overindulging, stress, increases in your salt intake are all a part of the holiday spirits. However, the sensation of indigestion produces similar symptoms to that of a heart attack and as such oftentimes goes ignored. Many would much rather entertain the thought of it being a sign of overeating and heartburn than to suspect the worst and cancel all the fun just to go to the hospital so the doctor can tell them it was ‘just heartburn.’

Tips: If you have experienced heart attacks before or your doctor had mentioned to you that you are at risk of heart disease, attacks and stroke then it is best to take some time out and visit your nearest provider. If you have lived all your life and have never had heartburn then don’t overlook the feeling now. Take some time and get it checked out. Early detection can save your life. IF it was just heartburn at least you were cautious and ruled out the worst. Nothing lost.

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