Tips for keeping healthy this holiday season

There is still time to get a flu shot. December may be here and yes, the holidays are around the corner but so is the cold and flu season. So get that shot.

Are there other ways to keep yourself healthy?

Well, we seem to have everyone aware that many infections are spread via sneezing and droplets, so remember to sneeze or cough in a protected fashion: your sleeve, jacket, or a tissue. (I always wonder, though, what happens to the germs on the sleeve if someone then reaches out to get your attention and touches that area! Nothing is foolproof!)

I always remind my patients that handwashing is critical; most however don’t do it long enough. Try singing the entire refrain of ‘Happy Birthday’ to you before you give up on the soap and water. As a Ryerson study reminded us, wash your hands regularly and always after using the restroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose.

Pretend you’ve got lipstick on and try keeping it intact when you go to kiss someone – the air kiss might seem very Hollywood but it works well for avoiding the spread of germs!

I recently saw a young woman with mononucleosis who could not figure out where she got the virus. But on close questioning, she recalled that not only do she and her friends share food and drinks, they often share utensils. NOT A GOOD IDEA!

If you are the one preparing the food, be sure to wash your hands in advance and make sure the surfaces are clean to avoid cross-contamination. You are best to use utensils when picking up foods rather than your hands and fingers.

Wine glasses can look the same and it is easy to use someone else’s glass. Keep a firm grip on yours!

I prefer soap and water to a hand sanitizer but it can be a good back-up, particularly in airports and handrails on escalators.

It is important to make sure you eat well, sleep well, and stay hydrated. If you do get sick, take my advice: stay home and don’t spread the wealth.

For those of you who don’t work out regularly, remember that shoveling the snow after a big snowfall can be more of a work out than you realize. Be careful not to overexert!

Studies also tell us that around the holiday’s injuries can be an issue. In fact, younger children are more likely to sustain an injury. Of the injuries: 29.2% of injuries involved cuts, 18.3% bruises/abrasions, 15.1% fractures, and 13% sprains/strains. Every minute in the United States and likely Canada, 17 children go to the emergency room with unintentional injuries — a number that is significantly increased by common holiday activities.

If you have a chronic disease that is made worse by the cold, be sure to be vigilant about your medication use. Asthma attacks can be made worse by cold weather.

Other things to be on the lookout for include food allergies; be mindful of what you are serving to your guests.

Just a bit of what we can do to avoid hazards around the holiday season!