For many, the holidays are a time filled with fun, friends and family, and good food. Don’t let illness or injury stand in the way of your holiday plans this year. Whether you are planning a low-key Christmas dinner with your immediate family or a huge holiday party, these tips can help you stay healthy and safe.
No one wants their holidays ruined by illness. Unfortunately, this time of year colds, flu, Covid, and RSV are ubiquitous – but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to get sick. Below are some steps you can take to minimize your risk of getting sick.
- Try to get vaccinated for both the flu and COVID – 19. Check your COVID-19 vaccination card to ensure you are fully boosted for complete protection. This is the best preventive measure against possible contraction of airborne & respiratory illnesses.
- Be sure to wear a mask and pack extras for others. Face masks have been proven to be very effective in preventing the spread of respiratory illnesses in crowds. Have it handy for crowded terminals or at holiday parties where you will be in close proximity with strangers.
- Wash your hands frequently and carry hand sanitizer. Many communicable diseases are spread via saliva droplets on surfaces
- Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Specifically, after touching objects that are for general use. This can help prevent ingestion of germs that were never meant to be in your body.
If you do find yourself feeling under the weather, we offer testing for influenza, Covid, and RSV, as well as treatment as needed.
Follow Food Safety Guidelines
After enjoying a delicious holiday meal with family and friends, the last thing you want to do is wake up in the middle of the night with stomach pain – or worse, vomiting and diarrhea. Foodborne illness can put a damper in even the best laid holiday plans – but it is completely avoidable. Here are some food safety tips to keep in mind while you prepare your meals.
- Clean: Any object touching the food should not be an agent of contamination. This includes our hands alongside any plates, cutting boards, utensils, and pots or pans. Countertops and cutting boards can harbor old bacteria if not wiped properly; always remember to clean your surfaces before using them.
- Separate: Take extra precaution to keep raw foods and cooked foods separated. Raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs have natural bacteria that may cause food poisoning when mixed with vegetables or already-cooked foods. This can cause bacteria from raw foods to transfer where they do not belong. Remember your surfaces! Do not put cooked foods on surfaces where raw foods have been.
- Cook: Temperature is key! Many harmful bacteria are not killed unless subjected to particular high temperatures. Invest in a good food thermometer in order to ensure your meat reaches a safe temperature. If cooking with a microwave, understand that every microwave is not the same. Check your microwave’s settings to ensure it is operating at the appropriate intensity for the particular food. If your food packaging does not indicate the threshold temperature, check the websites of the FDA or CDC for a list of accurate values.
- Chill: In general, the colder the temperature, the slower dangerous bacteria can multiply. To preserve your cooked foods, it is important to refrigerate or freeze them. This immobilizes the bacteria, protecting your food from spoiling.
If you do find yourself with symptoms of foodborne illness, try your best to keep hydrated. If you feel like your dehydration doesn’t improve with increased fluid intake, or if you are experiencing vomiting or diarrhea for an extended period of time, give us a call and we can help get you back on your feet.
It’s easy to forget to drink water when you are busy, and this is never more true than during the holiday season. Dehydration can become debilitating if it’s not addressed, and it also taxes your immune system – making you more susceptible to illness. Here are a few tips to help keep hydrated.
- Keep a water bottle with you at all times. With so many reusable water bottles on the market, there’s an option for everyone. Keep water by your side at all times, and if you regularly forget to drink water, set an alarm for yourself as a reminder.
- Spruce up your beverages. If plain water seems too, well, plain for you, add a wedge of lemon or lime, or choose sparkling water to make it more appealing. You can also choose non-caffeinated coffee, tea, or soda (watch out for the sugar!) or sports drinks to keep hydrated.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol exacerbates dehydration. If you choose to drink alcohol, be sure to alternate with glasses of water to keep yourself hydrated.
- Watch for sodium. Sodium can also cause dehydration, and many of our favorite holiday dishes are loaded with sodium. Make sure to drink extra water and limit sodium intake if possible.
While dehydration is usually treatable at home by drinking plenty of fluids, feel free to give us a call if you have any concerns.
It’s easy to fall behind on sleep during the excitement of the holidays. However, getting enough sleep (ideally 7+ hours/night for adults) is important for maintaining your health. According to the Mayo Clinic, studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick. Here are some tips to ensure you get enough sleep.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. Avoid using screens within an hour of bedtime, as blue light from electronic devices can disrupt your circadian rhythm. You should also avoid caffeinated beverages close to bedtime. Alcohol can also disrupt sleep, so practice drinking in moderation (if at all).
- Keep to a sleep schedule. Try your best to set yourself a consistent bedtime and wake time. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule (even on weekends) helps your body maintain its natural sleep rhythm and will make falling asleep and waking up easier.
Lack of sleep can lead to various health issues, so try your best to get enough sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping or are feeling extra tired and fatigued, come see us – no appointment necessary.
Travel is an exciting part of the holidays for many, but it brings with it the risk of illness or injury. Whether you are traveling by car or plane, there are many steps you can take to keep yourself safe and healthy as you travel to your destination.
Have a car emergency kit: There are certain things that you should make sure to have in your car before you pull out of the driveway. Pack these items in the trunk of your car for emergency purposes:
- Spare tire: If one of your existing tires goes flat, it is always good to have a spare so you can replace it without calling a roadside service. If you DO need to change your tire, be sure you are pulled all the way off the road, preferably in an area with good lighting. It’s also a good idea to have glow sticks or flares to alert other drivers to your location.
- Windshield wiper fluid: Have an extra bottle in case you drive through a storm and your car runs out. Visibility is very important to safe driving.
- Jumper cables: These are essential to have in your car. Jumper cables will help you revive the car battery if it has died.
- Tire Pressure Gauge: It is a good habit to check your tire pressure before driving long distances, especially in winter weather.
- Ice Scraper: Winter weather is unpredictable. Be ready for any snow or ice build up on your windows.
- First aid kit: It’s good to have a first aid kit that contains all the essentials for treating minor injuries and illnesses. We recommend including bandages, antibiotic ointment, alcohol wipes, and instant ice packs for unexpected injuries and ibuprofen/acetaminophen, Dramamine, Benadryl, and extra doses of prescription medications for illnesses or in case you’re unable to refill a prescription in a timely manner.
- Food and water: It’s imperative to keep extra food and water in your vehicle in case you become stranded and need to wait a while for help.
- Blankets and instant heat packs: If you DO find yourself stranded in your vehicle, it’s important to have blankets and other heat sources to keep you and your passengers warm while waiting for help, or just in case the temperature controls in your car stop working.
- Gas can: Keep a gas can in the back of your vehicle in case you hit unexpected traffic or get lost on your way to your destination and run out of gas.
Don’t drive drunk or drowsy: Driving under the influence of alcohol is very dangerous. However, so is driving drowsy. On average, 100,000 crashes are caused each year by drowsy/tired driving. Be sure to be rested and have a driver rotation plan for the ride. It is best to be as alert as possible in case of any surprises.
Plan for car sickness (or air sickness): Some of your passengers, especially children, may experience car sickness. Being inside a moving vehicle or airplane can sometimes cause dizziness, nausea and vomiting. Having a few doses of motion sickness or nausea medication, such as Dramamine, Bonine, or Benadryl, is a good idea for emergencies. You can purchase over-the-counter medications at a pharmacy. If you know your child is likely to get sick while driving, give them a dose of medication 30 minutes before driving. Be sure to consult your physician before giving any new medications.
Whatever this holiday season brings, we hope you stay healthy. But if you need us, remember that we are here to help you feel better! Walk in any time – no appointment needed.