Special Report

The Most Common Injuries Around the Holidays, According to ER Doctors

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11. Choking

“Mistletoes are pretty but pointless,” Getzinger says. Kids grab plants and eat them, oftentimes choking, he added. “Keep plants away from pets and children.” Swallowing injuries can lead to breathing problems and even poisoning, especially if a child ingests hand sanitizer. Airway obstruction is the fifth leading overall cause of death among children, especially those under one.

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12. Broken bones

This is a big concern for older people. The problem is that many don’t realize how serious falls can be, Kupas said. “The risk increases dramatically after [the age of] 55.” People’s balance, senses, and coordination are not as good. “Falls from even a step ladder can lead to serious fractures and even broken bones.”

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13. Stabbings

Extreme cases of physical altercations are not unheard of when families get together around the holidays. “We had a patient who was stabbed by a family member,” Getzinger said. Relatives who don’t see each other much get together and stay together for a long weekend are bound to argue. Arguments can get heated, and under the influence of alcohol, can end in the ER, he added.

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14. Flu

While the flu is not directly related to the holidays, visits to the ER because of it start to peak around that time, Getzinger said. More people than usual are in a close environment for a few days in a row. Someone is bound to catch a virus if another person is already sick, he added. “Cover your mouth when you cough or wear a mask if you have the flu.”

Historically, the most frequent complaints ER doctors hear in the winter are abdominal and chest pain, at least this is the case at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas. Coughing made it to the top three complaints last year due the record-breaking high volume flu season.

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