The holiday season is a time of celebration with family and friends. Traveling, festive foods, increased alcohol consumption, late nights ... they all add up.
For most, the health impact is minimal and may include exhaustion and a couple of unwanted pounds. However, the change in routine for others, such as people with chronic conditions, can have a significant impact on their health.
In fact, it's this time of year that hospitals see a rise in admissions for people with heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes and lung disease.
To stay healthy and safe this holiday season, try focusing on these four areas.
Inconvenience, busy schedules and extra expenses can make it tempting to quit taking your daily medications. If you have a chronic condition, missing even one dose of medication can cause a decline in your health.
- A key strategy is to not wait until the last minute to get your prescriptions refilled.
- Don't risk checking your medication. When you travel, store medications in the labeled bottle from the pharmacy and place the bottles in your carry-on or purse.
- Remember, once you get to your destination, store medication out of the reach of children.
Food is a large part of the holiday celebration. However, holiday favorites – such as ham, stuffing, and dips – are high in salt and cause fluid retention. People with heart failure or kidney disease can get into trouble quickly. Pies, cookies and snacks can cause blood sugars to increase, which is especially challenging for people with diabetes.
- The best strategy is to maintain your normal diet.
- Don't skip meals in order to save for the holiday feast. Instead be selective and take small portions of your favorite foods.
- Alcohol can also contribute to heart and blood sugar problems. So limit what you drink. Or avoid alcohol entirely.
- The holiday season is a time to be vigilant with daily monitoring, such as blood sugar checks and daily weights.
- If you do start to have symptoms related to your condition, don't delay in calling your health care provider.
Traveling during the holidays can mean long periods of sitting or being inactive. This can cause blood clots to develop in the lower extremities.
- If you're driving, take a break every and walk around every hour or two.
- If you're flying, wiggle your feet and legs while sitting. Don’t be shy. Take a walk down the aisle occasionally.
- During layovers don't sit. Walk instead.
- Try not dangle your feet all day. Go ahead and tell the kids to move off the couch so you can put your feet up for awhile.
Don't under estimate the power of sleep. People often make exceptions around the holidays and sacrifice sleep – not realizing the impact. Under the best conditions, holidays can be stressful and sleep will help you keep a positive outlook and maintain good health.
- Make an effort to keep your sleep routine.
- When traveling, don't leave behind medical devices, such as CPAP machines, which provide a safe and restful sleep.
- Watching what you eat, keeping active and limiting alcohol will help keep a normal sleep pattern as well.
Start now to develop strategies for the holidays and make your health a priority. Don't hesitate to talk to your health care provider if you have concerns or questions. Place your health first and join the holiday celebration feeling good.