To Your Health!
Health Tips for the Holidays
By Liya Moges
As the season shifts from Fall to Winter, it’s quite easy to get swept up in the whirlwind of the holiday season. Family and friends gather from around the country to celebrate during this time of year, however, it’s important to remember that with all its bustle and joy of the holiday season, it is a time in which hospitals are put under the most amount of pressure.
Holiday Hospital Admissions
A statistic shared by a Business Insider article claims that emergency rooms and hospitalizations occur by 5-12% during the holiday season, and while this estimate can seem a bit low, it proves that there are still some health risks to keep in mind during the busy season.
There are a variety of reasons in which people can incur hospitalization during the winter season, most of which are attributed to decoration mishaps, cold weather, infections, food poisoning, binge drinking and more so it's important to be mindful of your surroundings and your limits when it comes to things like decorating, eating, or drinking.
Tips and advice to reduce risk of hospitalization for the season
As mentioned above, there a multitude of ways in which you or a loved one can become hurt or incur a risk of some sort for the season. Here are a few tips to be mindful of during the season to reduce your chance of getting hurt during the year’s most cheerful season!
Decoration accidents: One of the most common reasons for hospitalization during the winter months is due to an accident when trying to decorate the house based on your holiday. A way to reduce risk of hurting yourself or reducing the risk of a loved one from hurting themselves is to be sure to have any extra hands or help from family or friends when putting up decorations. As the saying goes, two heads are better than one, so don’t be afraid to ask for help when facing a daunting or risky task (like climbing up the ladder)!
Sickness from cold weather: Winter is notoriously known for bringing about sickness and illnesses in everyone. The Flu may seem like a small condition at first, but it can become life-threatening very quickly once pneumonia (inflammation of the lung tissue) sets due to a viral infection. The Flu and Pneumonia are the leading causes of hospital admissions over the winter season, so it’s important to bundle up, reduce exposure to the cold weather, and wear a mask to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Food Poisoning: During the holidays, a feast is inevitable when surrounded by family and friends for the break, and while everyone loves a good home-cooked meal, be sure to inspect and take caution of any foods that may look or taste under or overcooked. It can be easy to improvise recipes and use leftovers from the fridge, however its for everyone’s best interest to follow safety guidelines and directions from labels. So be sure to read all directions and labels when in the kitchen, it may prevent a lovely dinner with friends and family from being spoiled!
Safe drinking: It’s common to have a celebratory drink for the sake of the winter spirits, however it’s crucial to the safety of your loved ones and well as others, to limit or be aware of your alcohol intake. Drunk driving mortality rates are always higher over holidays, and so accidents are very likely to happen whether it be on the road or even at home. If you notice a family member drinking for the holiday, please make sure that they have a safe way to return home or offer a bed for them to use for the night in order to prevent any accidents or hospitalizations.
Respiratory Diseases: Along with the flu and pneumonia, respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema (all of which are chronic respiratory diseases in which the airways are obstructed due to the cold weather) are also some health risks to be weary of during the cold months. It was recorded by the Office of National Statistics that there are 55% more deaths caused by these chronic respiratory diseases during the winter months during 2019-2020. To reduce the risk of worsening any of these existing conditions, take extra precautions and reduce your exposure to cold weather.
Cardiovascular Diseases: Other diseases that affect the heart, blood flow and blood vessels are prominent during the winter season as well. For people who have pre-existing cardiovascular disease, the cold weather may irritate or cause arteries within the body to constrict and reduce blood flow, causing the body to work harder to keep the body warm. Overworking the body in this way can lead to things such as heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes, so it's important to wear warm clothes, reduce exposure to the cold, continue any prescribed medications, and take things easy if you or someone you know struggles with cardiovascular problems.
Keeping these health risks in mind, please be sure to call 911 or go to the emergency room in the case that you or a loved one is injured during the holiday season. Many clinics will be closed during Christmas day so be sure to have all medications you may need refilled and purchase a first-aid kit (or a few first aid items such as band-aids and antibiotic ointment/wipes), in order to be prepared in the unfortunate case that someone is injured.
Liya Moges is a passionate and dedicated junior studying Biomedical Science, Business, and Law at Georgia State University. She works at Emory University Hospital supporting nurses and physicians on a Complex Medicine floor and uses this opportunity to shadow different physicians in different specialties. In her goal to educate the public about health issues and equal access to care, Liya joined Today’s Patient to address topics such as health and wellness, public health, and diversity inclusion in medicine.
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