The Four Best Ways To Stay Healthy During The Holidays

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, it’s important to take steps to stay healthy so you can enjoy the festivities with your family and friends.  Here are four of the most important things you can do to stay healthy this year.

1) Get your flu shot!

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Flu shots save lives.  Even if you don’t have a chronic illness or compromised immune system, you can still experience life-threatening complications if you get influenza.  To avoid becoming one of the 36,000 Americans who die of the flu each year, or one of the 200,000 who are hospitalized from flu complications each year, get your flu shot!  

As a reminder, the flu shot is not a live vaccine, so it can’t give you the flu.  And it takes 7-14 days to build up immunity, so the sooner you get it, the better.

2) Travel with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.

An estimated 100 million Americans will be traveling over the holidays this year, which means a lot of germs will be traveling, too.  It’s smart to travel with disinfectant wipes so you can decontaminate germy surfaces (like seatback trays on airplanes and remote controls in hotel rooms).  And travel with hand sanitizer so you can clean your hands frequently.

3) Cook and store food properly.

Food poisoning is a common infection over the holidays, often due to undercooked meat or food that’s left at room temperature too long.  To avoid ruining your holidays with a serious gastrointestinal infection, check expiration dates on perishable food, use a meat thermometer to ensure that meat is cooked to its proper temperature, and don’t leave perishable food at room temperature for more than two hours.

(Click here to read the CDC’s Four Steps to Food Safety.)

4) Drink in moderation.

Alcohol consumption rises during the holidays, as people celebrate the season with champagne, spiked eggnog and festive cocktails.  However, excessive consumption of alcohol can cause significant health risks.

Three hundred Americans are killed between Christmas and New Years each year in alcohol-related car crashes.  And thousands of people are hospitalized with cardiac arrhythmias that have been nicknamed “Holiday Heart Syndrome” since they’re caused by excessive alcohol consumption between Thanksgiving and New Years.

Moderating your alcohol consumption can help ensure that your holidays are as healthy and safe as possible!  If you’re in the mood for a festive beverage, consider making one of these non-alcoholic “mocktails” instead.

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At Golden Gate Urgent Care, we’re here seven days a week to help make your holidays as happy and healthy as possible!  If you need a flu shot, or medical attention for an illness or injury, make an appointment or simply walk in to any of our six Bay Area locations to get the care you need.

Author
Sarah Thebarge MMSc, PA-C Sarah Thebarge earned her physician assistant degree at Yale School of Medicine, and then studied journalism at Columbia School of Journalism. She has been a physician assistant and a freelance journalist since 2004. In addition to caring for patients at Golden Gate Urgent Care, Sarah frequently volunteers her medical skills in the developing world. Her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, USA Today and National Geographic, and her blog was featured on MSNBC.com. She is the author of the memoir The Invisible Girls and the upcoming book WELL: Healing our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa. She currently lives in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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