Top Five Thanksgiving Injuries and How to Avoid Them

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LOS ANGELES -- Thanksgiving officially launches the holiday season -- a season of feasting, festivities and fun. To keep it fun, Olympia Medical Center's physicians offer advice on how to avoid the top five risks that land people in a hospital emergency room during this season.

1. Heartburn -- Overeating combined with fatty foods can lead to burning chest pain and an acid taste. "Moderation is the key to avoiding post-turkey heartburn," said Stephen Carney, MD, Olympia Medical Center's emergency room medical director. Most cases of heartburn can be treated with a glass of water or milk or an over-the-counter antacid. Ways to avoid getting heartburn in the first place include:

* Not lying down for at least three hours after eating.
* Elevating the head of your bed six inches.
* Avoiding cigarette smoking and large meals.

Anyone experiencing heartburn two to three times a week should consult a physician. It may be a sign of ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease or other serious problem.

2. Weight gain -- The average American gains two pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's. "This may not sound like much, but after five years that's an additional ten pounds ... just from the holidays," pointed out Carson Liu, MD, medical director for the Center for Surgical Weight Control at Olympia Medical Center. "There's no harm in enjoying the great foods of Thanksgiving, but it is important not to overdo it." Here are some suggestions to avoid having your own holiday leftovers:

* Select small portions; this enables you to try a little bit of everything.
* Eat those foods that you don't get during the rest of the year like stuffing and sweet potatoes.
* Skip the fatty trimmings like gravy, butter and whipped cream.
* Drink plenty of water.
* Increase your physical activity.

3. Choking -- The number one cause of choking is eating too quickly or while doing something else, such as talking, drinking or laughing. "People need to be hyper vigilant about what their children are putting in their mouths during the holidays," said Carney. "Choking is an emergency that can quickly lead to death if not treated promptly. The main things that people can do to avoid choking are to eat slowly and watch children closely."

4. Excessive drinking -- Besides a nasty hangover and obvious safety hazards, over-imbibing can have many negative effects -- some social and some physical -- including depression, an inflammation of the pancreas, hepatitis and an irregular heartbeat. "The holidays are a time of celebration, but also can be very stressful leading people to drink more than they normally would," said Ian Renner, MD, medical director for Olympia Medical Center's Pancreatico-Biliary Institute. "Drinking is fine as long as it's done in moderation." Drinking in moderation means no more than one alcoholic drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. And never drink and drive.

5. Cuts and burns -- Cuts and burns are some of the most common Thanksgiving Day injuries as people are busy preparing a big holiday meal. Here are some tips for kitchen safety:

* Keep an ABC-rated fire extinguisher nearby.
* Make sure pot handles are turned away from the stove's edge.
* Use a sharp knife. (Most accidents occur with dull knives.)
* Keep your cutting board secure by using a non-skid pad.
* Use pots and pans with cool-touch handles.

Olympia Medical Center is a visionary provider of high-quality, cost-efficient, individualized patient care in the heart of Los Angeles.

Source: Olympia Medical Center

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