Written by Dr. Mary Reilly

I was at class this week and one of the coaches said how much she dreads December.  “So much going on, so much to do,” she lamented.  She’s right!  Although the holidays are a great opportunity to rejoice with our friends and family, they can often be a taxing time that can stress our health.

We often try to cram too much in too few hours with too little sleep.

So how can you enjoy this holiday season and stay healthy?  Here’re a few easy tips to maintain good health for you and your family!

  1. Frequent hand washing.  It seems banal, but it’s an easy, inexpensive way to minimize getting sick.  One of the reasons people get sick more often in the winter is a consequence of bigger groups of people gathering together in close quarters and passing around their illnesses.
  2. Travel safely.   Since the holidays are definitely a time of increased travel, decrease your risk of injury by wearing your seatbelt and making sure your kids are in the appropriate child safety restraint.  And if you imbibe, call for a ride. Forty percent of traffic-related deaths during Christmas and New Years involve drunk drivers.
  3. On a less sobering note, keep some basic home remedies on hand to treat minor illnesses and injuries.  My family keeps acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) for pain and fever.  Bacitracin is actually a great antibiotic ointment for minor cuts and scrapes and is much less likely to cause an allergic skin reaction than Neosporin.
    1. A common injury I see in the emergency department during the holidays is an avulsion laceration sustained while prepping food.  A hurried chef cuts off a hunk of the tip of his/her finger.  This is easily treated with bacitracin, a nonadherent dressing (like Telfa, so it won’t stick to the wound) and lots of pressure (hold for more than ten minutes and it WILL stop bleeding).  Then leave the dressing in place for at least 24 hours and voila!, you’ve saved yourself a trip to the ED.
  4. Finally, continue to exercise!  Although you can’t out train a bad diet, continuing to get to the gym will help mitigate both your increased level of stress during this holiday season and perhaps some of the additional calories we all enjoy.  Happy Holidays!
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