Keeping healthy for the holidays: MUHC experts share advice


The holiday season has already begun; the parties are planned and the decorations are shining. MUHC experts have the following advice on how to sail smoothly through the season and survive the festivities.

When should you come to the ER?
Traditionally, holiday time is busy in hospital Emergency Rooms. Icy roads, increased stress and over-consumption may all result in an unanticipated trip. What symptoms warrant a visit to the ER and are there other options, such as going to the local CLSC? How does the ER prioritize their patients and what are the expected waiting times? MUHC ER physicians can answer these questions and share some tips about how to avoid this unwanted experience.

Keeping on the diet track
Food, glorious food. What are the best strategies for enjoying scrumptious fare without overindulging? Are some festive treats better to have than others and which combinations are the worst for the waist? MUHC nutritionists can provide information about balancing the consumption of empty calories with healthy eating.

Avoiding nasty germs
Crowded shopping malls, office parties and other socializing may increase your exposure to the season's illnesses, such as the flu, colds and gastrointestinal ailments. How do we avoid catching someone else's viruses? Does hand sanitizer really work? MUHC infectious disease specialists have advice about how to stay germ free.

What's under the tree?
Video games and players are listed among the most desired gifts for the year. Are they a good idea or do they bring out an addictive nature in our children? Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (MNI/H) can discuss brain activity during gaming and if this is truly habit forming.

Keeping Zen during the season
Irate bosses, last-minute deadlines and unexpected guests are all part of the holiday tradition. For some, this may cause increased anxiety and stress, leading to exhaustion and depression. MUHC psychiatrists have suggestions about how to remain calm during this active time and how to help those who are under pressure.

Heading south?
Sun seekers heading south or to other countries should remember to update their immunizations. Most southern countries recommend booster shots against diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, and others require more complicated series of vaccinations and medications. Clinicians from the Tropical Disease Clinic can suggest which vaccines and medications are the most appropriate.

Are sugar plums for diabetics okay?
Candy canes, gumdrops and other sweets are part of the holiday tradition. Many people believe that sugar is forbidden when a person has diabetes. However, thanks to a new insulin pump program at the Children's, young diabetics may be able to indulge in some of these treats. This program allows for the possibility of good diabetes control even when eating foods that challenge this. Clinicians at the Children's can discuss this program and how it changes the quality of life for these individuals.

Keeping kids safe
The ER at the Children's sees about 250 to 300 patients every day during the holiday season, among them victims of avoidable injuries like ingestion of small objects, sport-related injuries, eye injuries and cranial traumas (bumps on the head). The experts in the MCH Trauma and Injury Prevention Program believe that at least 90 percent of these non-intentional injuries can be prevented. Discuss with them how to keep our kids safe.

A hospital holiday
Some unfortunate individuals will spend the holidays in the hospital. How can family members and friends help make this time manageable? MUHC counselors, who help patients through this period, also have advice for family members about how to support their loved ones.

About the McGill University Health Centre
The MUHC is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research, teaching and technology evaluation. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University: the Montreal Children's, Montreal General, Royal Victoria, and Montreal Neurological hospitals, and the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.

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