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10 Holiday Health Hazards to Avoid

 The holiday season is meant to be a time for unwinding with your close friends and family. However, this season does not come without its own set of particular hazards, which could lead to devastating consequences. In order to stay safe this holiday season, make sure to avoid the following hazards:

 

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1. Shopping woes

With any shopping trip, you need to pay attention to just how much weight you carry. Going from one shop to the next with several bags could wear you down and cause a backache. "This is not the time to be a superhero," according to Jennifer Caudle, DO, a board-certified family physician and assistant professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, New Jersey. "Take breaks so you're not standing on your feet the entire day."

2. Food poisoning

With every year that passes, approximately 48 million people are sent to the hospital due to foodborne diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the holiday season, you must be mindful of preparing meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs especially, Caudle says. Use separate cutting boards to avoid the spread of bacteria, and ensure that ground meat is cooked to 160 degrees, whole meat gets to at least 145 degrees, and chicken should reach 165 degrees.

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3. Poisonous plants

Hold the mistletoe and holly if you plan to have pets and small kids around during the holidays. Both of these plants can be highly toxic, and pine cones and falling berries can also pose a significant choking hazard. Your best bet is to ensure that nobody smaller than a holly bush gets near any seasonal plants this year.

4. Choking

Almost 3,000 people in the USA die each year from choking, and since you're eating more during the holidays than usual, you had better chew your chestnut pudding and pumpkin pie well. To avoid choking on food, take smaller bites, chew slowly and carefully, and avoid distractions while eating. You should also be wary of high-risk foods, such as hot dogs, grapes, candy with nuts, and hard fruits and vegetables.

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5. Heart attacks

The holiday season is the worst time of year for heart issues, with heart-related deaths peaking in late December and early January. Holiday stress, heavy meals, ignoring chest pain and skipping medication are all triggers for a heart attack. Be aware of your body and enjoy everything in moderation to stay safe.

6. Flammable Christmas trees

Every year, over 400 residential fires start due to Christmas trees, which result in as many as 40 deaths and 100 injuries. Despite the fact that Christmas trees cause the fewest holiday-related fires, they actually account for the largest percentage of deaths, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The safest tree you could ever purchase is a flame-resistant artificial one.

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7. Toy packaging

It may sound odd, but every year around 6,000 people in the USA visit the emergency room with injuries from attempting to pry, slice, or stab open gifts encased in hard plastic or which are held down with loads of metal twist ties. To prevent this, never allow your children to open their gifts unsupervised.

8. Sleep problems

A good night's rest is often the first thing that ends up being sacrificed to the altar of holiday festivities. However, losing sleep can lower immunity, lead to weight gain, increase stress, and even raise your risk for depression and car accidents. You won't regret making sleep a priority. 

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9. Weight gain

Christmas cookies, late-night leftover ham sandwiches, and eggnog can all add up to at least an extra pound each year. What's more, studies suggest that you never really end up shedding it all before swimsuit season rolls around, so you should try your best to eat mindfully during the holiday season.

10. Stress

"Stress around the holidays can be worse than other times because people tend to over-commit themselves," says Caudle. Women especially find the holidays challenging. Researchers from the American Psychological Association discovered that 44% of women reported increased stress during the holiday season compared to only 31% of men. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, don't shy away from getting some help.

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