Hectic schedules, family entertaining, and even financial stressors can add another layer of negative health impacts. While it may feel good to “let go” during the holidays, it’s not recommended; more people experience health issues — both mild and serious — during this time of the year. Here are some medical conditions more common during the holidays and tips to help avoid them:
- Gallbladder attacks – Overeating during the holidays can cause a host of problems, the most obvious one being weight gain. However, increases in the consumption of fatty foods and alcohol can cause other serious problems such as gallbladder attacks. Gallbladder attacks happen when gallstones, 80% of which are made primarily of cholesterol, obstruct a bile duct. A gallbladder attack will generally land a person in the emergency room, and treatment can range from gallbladder removal to medication used to dissolve the cholesterol stones.
Try to avoid overeating at holiday meals, especially at dinner, and consume saturated fat and alcohol in moderation. Stay hydrated throughout the day — water not only helps to flush out excess cholesterol, but it also keeps you feeling full so you don’t overeat.
- Depression – During the holidays, there is a lot of pressure to be happy, and with all of the demands and stressors that come with this time of the year, it’s not unusual to feel anxiety and low mood. The “holiday blues” can be a result of too many or no plans, financial strain, increased food and alcohol intake, time demands, and deadlines. Generally, these feelings stop as the holidays end — but if the sadness sticks around for weeks or months after — it could be clinical depression, which requires treatment.
Some ways to avoid depression during the holidays include taking time for yourself to recoup and relax, saying “no” to social situations if you’re feeling overwhelmed, and practicing gratitude about the positives in your life.
- Heart attacks – Unfortunately, there are more heart-related deaths during the holiday season. In fact, according to the University of California San Francisco, they increase by 5%. People generally will ignore heart symptoms — especially over the holidays — because they’re busy or they mistake them for something less serious such as heartburn or acid reflux.
Again, try to avoid overeating so gastrointestinal issues won’t arise in the first place. If you or a loved one do experience heart attack symptoms, call 911 immediately.
- Household Accidents and ER Visits – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there are around 15,000 holiday-related accidents with 12,000 of those landing in the ER. Falls are among the most common reason for injuries — especially falls from ladders while putting up decorations and lights. The second most common injuries are caused by a combination of alcohol and something else — such as motor vehicles or altercations. Injuries from fires, most notably from candles or from overly-dry live trees catching fire, are also common.
The easiest way to avoid injuries over the holidays is to use common sense and practice moderation.