The holidays are a busy time for many people, from shopping for family and friends to attending festive parties. It’s also a hectic time for physicians and nurses who work in emergency departments across the country because they often see an increase in visits due to injuries and illnesses sustained from various holiday activities.
According to the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission’s most recent numbers, physicians see an average increase of 5-10 percent in emergency department visits this time of year. In 2016, an estimated 36,729 U.S. residents went to the emergency department the day of Thanksgiving. Many of these visits are due to heart attacks, alcohol and food poisoning, falls, depression and even decorating accidents. Believe it or not, 12,000-15,000 people end up in an emergency department each year from injuries sustained while decorating for the holidays.
Deaths from serious heart issues increase by five percent during the holidays, peaking on Christmas and New Year’s Day. Much of this is attributed by healthcare professionals to the increased amount of salt and fat many people intake at holiday meals and parties.
Read the following tips on keeping yourself out of the emergency department this holiday season:
- Don’t overindulge. Eat in moderation, especially when consuming fat, sugar and salt.
- Secure your ladder when decorating. Ensure the ladder is secured on a level surface and that you have someone spotting you.
- Know your dietary restrictions. Whether you require gluten-free foods or are severely allergic to certain foods, let the host of any parties you attend know your limitations and avoid foods where the ingredients are unknown to avoid the possibility of anaphylactic shock.
- Watch your feet! Many people visit the emergency department during the holidays after dropping a heavy dish on their feet. Others may need treatment for burns sustained while cooking.
- Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol. About ten percent of visits to an emergency department on Christmas and 17 percent on New Year’s Eve are due to an overabundance of alcohol.
- Check your food before you eat it. If you think something you’re about to eat looks uncooked, don’t eat it unless you check it with a meat thermometer. Food poisoning cases are common in emergency departments during the holidays because of undercooking or unsafe food preparation.
- Know your knives. Many people use large carving knives to prepare holiday meals but don’t know how to property utilize them. Take extra precaution when cutting holiday meats to avoid severe cuts.
- Beat the holiday blues. A lot of people experience increased stress, depression and anxiety during the holiday season. If this applies to you, make sure to get enough sleep, eat a regular diet and take time for yourself. As always, seek professional help if necessary.
If you’re one of the unlucky ones who finds yourself sick or injured during the holidays, ensure you receive proper medical attention. For more minor health issues, including cuts, sprains, broken bones, sore throats and ear infections, many healthcare professionals recommend seeking medical care at an urgent care facility near you. For more serious issues, such as stroke symptoms, chest pains, severe stomach pain, uncontrolled bleeding and fainting, head straight to your local emergency department.