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Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

Dec 10, 2018

The holidays can be filled with joy, celebrations and family reunions. But it’s also a time to be wary of dangers that often arise at this time of year. Resolute Health Hospital has some tips that can keep you and your family safe during the holidays.

The first thing to be aware of is that heart attacks are more common around the holidays. Researchers believe contributing factors may include: changes in diet, increased alcohol consumption, stress from family, overextending finances, travel, entertaining and respiratory problems. According to a study by the American Heart Association, more people die of heart attacks over the holidays, possibly because they ignore the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack or believe they may just be suffering from indigestion. Here are some things to keep in mind that can reduce the risk of heart attack over the holidays.

  • Don’t forget to take prescribed medicines
  • Try not to overeat
  • Limit fatty foods with healthy recipe substitutions
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Manage stress with therapies that work for you – meditation, yoga, counseling, etc.
  • Don’t ignore symptoms of heart attack that can include:
    • Chest pain or discomfort
    • Shortness of breath
    • Pain or discomfort in the arm or shoulder
    • Nausea, feeling light-headed or unusually tired
    • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back
  • Call 911 if you experience these or other symptoms

Other conditions can worsen due to changes in diet over the holidays. For people with salt restrictions, such as those with High Blood Pressure and Congestive Heart Failure, the holidays are a common time for cheating on diets resulting in ER visits. So, maintain your doctor ordered diets.

Emergency rooms also see an increase during the holidays of patients suffering from overdoses, depression, anxiety and suicide attempts. These issues can stem from family conflict, overdoing alcohol consumption or feeling alone and isolated. If you know someone who may be alone over the holidays, check on them. If you notice signs of anxiety or depression in loved ones, encourage them to seek help, take them to the hospital if necessary or call 911 if you feel like someone may be a danger to themselves or others.

Driving during the holidays has its own set of dangers. Heidi Abraham, MD. is an ER physician at Resolute Health Hospital and EMS Medical Director for the New Braunfels Fire Department. She has tips for drivers during the holidays. “Alcohol intoxication can lead to deadly consequences when people get behind the wheel, said Abraham. “Car accidents are a big concern over the holidays when people have been drinking. We don’t have as much ice on the roads as folks up north, but every year we treat patients who may have ignored hazardous road conditions and wind up in a car accident. People traveling to see family or friends may be driving long distances, can get sleepy behind the wheel and may drive off the road or into an oncoming car. My advice for anyone driving over the holidays is don’t drink and drive, get plenty of rest, pull over if you are sleepy and stay hydrated.”

New Year’s Eve revelers often wind up in the ER with injuries stemming not only from alcohol consumption but use of fireworks as well. Emergency rooms see cuts, bruises, broken bones and sprained ankles. Trauma caused by people falling and hurting themselves while celebrating a little too enthusiastically. Experts say children should never be allowed to handle fireworks, and adults should exercise caution. “People can experience burns, can lose fingers and even eyes around the when igniting fireworks,” says Abraham. “I recommend watching professionally sponsored fireworks displays rather than risk injuries from setting them off yourself.”

Of course, the holiday season can also be flu season. To protect yourself, wash your hands and try not to touch door handles, shopping carts or other surfaces when you’re out in public. If you do get sick, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, drink plenty of fluids, get lots of rest and stay home. Remember, the flu is a virus. That means antibiotics won’t work. To avoid a costly ER bill, your best bet is to get in to see your primary care physician or urgent care clinic first.

Do not use any device requiring fuel such as gasoline inside or near the house. We have had whole families with carbon monoxide positioning because they ran a generator next to the home and the exhaust came in through a partially open window. Remember that carbon monoxide poisoning is the silent killer that can cause a flu-like illness:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Irregular breathing

Keeping all of these things in mind will help ensure that you and your loved ones have a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.