THANKSGIVING HEALTH PERILS
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and everyone is excited to celebrate the holiday. However, while you enjoy yourself with the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thanksgiving feast, family reunions, Turkey Bowl, and Black Friday sales, please make sure that you don’t fall victim to common health perils during this holiday. From preparation of the Thanksgiving spread to the actual meal itself celebrating the holiday may become more painful than fun!
Be careful with that turkey! It won’t be the last turkey you carve but your fingers might be. Always use a carving fork and, with so much food and family chaos, try to focus to avoid distractions when working with knives. If you sustain a cut, hold pressure and wrap the wound in a clean dry bandage. Furthermore, once those turkeys are in the oven, be sure to check on the turkey and fixins frequently. The rate of residential fires more than doubles this time of the year. If the turkey will be deep-fried, be sure it has been thawed first. A frozen turkey placed into a deep fryer can cause significant splattering of hot oil and result in deep burns or other serious injuries. Luckily, most injuries can be treated with first aid or a quick visit to the Emergency room. Burns should be run under cool (not cold water) and covered with a moistened gauze. Do not pop blisters and call your local wound doctor for further care.
Thinking about feeding an army? The effort of lifting that 30-pound turkey can put stress on the abdominal wall causing or worsening hernias. If, after lifting the bird, you feel a sudden pain or bulge, a hernia might have developed. Lay down and apply gentle pressure to push the bulge back in. If the pain is severe or the bulge won't budge, head to the ER or your local general surgeon.
A lot of delicious holiday foods are well-seasoned with salt or naturally salt-containing. Salty food can worsen cardiac failure or chronic edema by causing the body to collect extra fluid. Sure, it’s just one meal but all it takes is a little extra to push the fluid balance and result in difficulty breathing, overexertion of the heart, or swelling of the legs. This would warrant a trip from your dinner table into urgent care.
Dessert is the best conclusion to a gluttonous day. While diabetes may be well controlled every other day with medications and diet modification, on Thanksgiving, those carbohydrates may be unable to resist. Uncontrolled blood sugars can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis or coma and long term can worsen heart disease, neuropathy, and nausea and vomiting.
With so many delicious foods, avoiding fats on Thanksgiving may be too much to ask. A high intake of fat, even healthy fat, will put the gallbladder to work. The gallbladder stores the digestive enzymes for fats made by the liver. When the enzymes clump, they can make stones. If there is a presence of gallstones, eating high-fat holiday foods can increase pain from the gallbladder trying to work to digest them. Fat triggers the gallbladder to contract and empty which can be irritating and painful when it contracts against gallstones.
Corn in the diverticula
Nuts, seeds, corn, and other high-residue foods are not well digested. The particles can become trapped in diverticula and incite infection as bacteria collect to feed on them. These protruding pouches are easily irritated and can become infected with diverticulitis. So avoiding these can help with the prevention of inflammation and associated symptoms.
Turkey Bowl injuries
We aren’t all forever young. Any time someone is playing football regardless of age and comorbidities, there is a chance for injuries. These can include falls, twisting an ankle, dislocation of joints, or worse, fractures. Remember your age and abilities when “going long.” A visit to the ER is definitely one for the loss column.
DVTs and Driving after Thanksgiving
Driving long distances for the holidays can cause pooling in the legs. Stagnant blood in the legs can lead to clots that can break free. These deep vein clots (DVTs) get caught in the lungs and can be fatal. Prevent blood clots by wearing compression stockings for long, greater than 2-hour trips and taking frequent breaks every hour or so.
While Thanksgiving can have its pitfalls, above all, enjoy your family and friends. I am so thankful for those around me and, of course, for my son, Walker. Happy Thanksgiving!