Hectic Holidays Bring Health Hazards

Here's some trouble to look out for -- and ways to avoid it

Please note: This article was published more than one year ago. The facts and conclusions presented may have since changed and may no longer be accurate. And "More information" links may no longer work. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.

THURSDAY, Nov. 24, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Hectic travel, overeating, family stress -- Thanksgiving can be tough on both the mind and body. And the coming cold of the approaching winter won't help.

Here, according to the Harvard Health Letter, are some health hazards to watch out for:

  • Cold temperatures can increase blood pressure and make blood more likely to form artery-blocking clots.
  • The short days and long nights can alter levels of hormones that can affect heart rate and mood.
  • Levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol peak in December and January, experts say.
  • Coughs, colds and flu are more common in winter.
  • Holiday stress can cause chest pain and trigger heart attacks.
  • Eating too much or too fast, drinking too much, gaining weight, and too much salt can all harm health.
  • Travel can boost stress levels, cause lapses in medication schedules, and delays in seeking care.

However, the same Harvard experts offer advice on keeping these dangers at bay:

  • Maintain a normal medication schedule.
  • Squeeze in physical activity whenever possible.
  • Get a flu shot, especially if you're elderly or have a compromised immune system.
  • Find time to relax.
  • If you don't feel well -- get help, even on a holiday.

More information

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers some winter safety tips.

SOURCE: Harvard Health Letter, news release, Nov. 16, 2005

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