1. Severe burns
The skin is the most commonly injured organ around the Holidays, according to Metzger. And cooking accidents are very common in ERs around Thanksgiving.
“People don’t understand that oil can go anywhere when it sprays,” Getzinger said. Third-degree burns are a regular diagnosis. Hot water on the face, oil splashed, burns after people try to grab something from the oven — these are all very common accidents that bring people to the ER, he explained.
Turkey fryers have become very popular, making them a common cause for ER visits, according to Kupas. “People forget to leave enough space and end up putting the turkey in too much hot oil, which then overflows and burns your skin.” At the very least, he added, fire-resisting gloves should be used.
Burns are common around Christmas, too. People use real candles and even sometimes put them on trees as decorations. “They get burned just from reaching across,” Kupas said. “Not to mention the fire hazard they present.”
2. Hip injuries
“We call this time of year the ‘hip season,'” Getzinger said.
Statistically, the No. 1 reason for visiting trauma centers, at least in Pennsylvania, according to Kupas, is accidental falls. “It used to be car crashes, but as people live longer, the number of falls causing serious injuries has surpassed them.”
3. Heart failure
The unusually high amount of salt and sugar intake around the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, may cause a problem for people with pre-existing conditions and with congestive heart failure, Amanti explained. High levels of sugar leads to higher blood pressure and inflammation. High blood pressure can create stress on the heart and arteries, which can lead to heart attacks.
Holidays are times filled with emotional highs and lows. One problem that causes a spike in ER visits during all holidays is related to mental health. “We do see more clinically depressed people around the holidays and people who have attempted suicide,” Metzger said.
Research shows that stress over the holidays increases rather than decreases. Anxiety over unrealistic expectations, lack of time to prepare, and spending too much money are common reasons people feel depressed.
5. Head injuries
People often fall backwards and hit their heads hard during the holidays. This usually happens when they are trying to decorate the Christmas tree or around the house, Getzinger explained. He gave the example of hoverboards, which are a hazard most people don’t think of. “Kids often fall and hit their head and back.”
Older people coming to the ER with head injuries around the holidays as a result from falling is also common. “For the elderly, even falling from standing can be serious and lead to brain trauma and broken bones,” Kupas said.
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