A doctor’s advice on avoiding holiday emergencies

Local News
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WEST PLAINS, Mo. – The pandemic last year really changed the way we approached our holidays. This year though many are attempting to resume their normal celebrations this year. What many don’t know is that a spike in emergency room visits happens during the holidays.

According to a press release, Dr. Curtis Horstman, Medical Director of Ozarks Healthcare’s Emergency Department in West Plains says, many of these holiday trauma spikes are usually related to cooking and choking hazards.

“Cooking injuries are most common for kids,” Horstman said. “Normally, we see many who find cords or pot handles to pull down hot liquids, boiling water, soups, and sauces that can cause burns and injuries. We also see a lot of kids who swallow small objects found in items you have in your house during the holidays, including electronics or décor with small sharp objects, magnets, and watch-style batteries. These are objects that are fairly easy to swallow and the kind of things we have to go after and retrieve,” Horstman says.

Of course, many of these common holiday health emergencies are preventable. For example, by paying attention to make sure heat sources are not within reach of unattended children. Although if someone does get burned, remove the injury from the source of the heat and run cool water over it. Then dampen a shirt or sheet with lukewarm water before putting over the burn on your way out of the house to seek emergency care.

“Usually slips and falls with cold weather and sometimes icy conditions can send people to the Emergency Department if they are out and about more,” Dr. Horstman states. “If there is loss of consciousness, vomiting, or if you are on a blood-thinning medication and fall, you should be checked out right away, even if you think you may be okay.”

Other sources of holiday emergency room visits range from electrical accidents from overloaded power strips to allergic reactions to decorating a live Christmas tree. Yet, Horstman says that psychological trauma. is increasing and raising the need for emergency care across America.

“We see a lot of psychological-related issues around the holidays,” Horstman said. “It’s been picking up through the entire pandemic. When someone is struggling in an environment and surroundings that seem extra cheerful, it can exacerbate his or her struggle. Last year, we noticed more psychological cases, and I think we will continue to see it again with the pandemic still ongoing.”

Plus many Americans put off some health care needs during the pandemic and that could lead to developing complications from something that was preventable if treated sooner.

Horstman says that he doesn’t expect covid-19 to be at the forefront of many people’s minds this year, but states that while it’s good to get a covid vaccination, precautions such as diligent handwashing and masking when appropriate are still some of the best preventions of spreading the virus. Seeking treatment immediately if you have a covid-19 infection is very important as well.

“We have already seen a noticeable uptick in cases,” Horstman says. “As people travel back home from college or travel around, it is going to increase the potential for a surge. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, it’s important to get diagnosed early, especially if you have risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure, or a compromised immune system.”

If you or a loved one faces any emergencies this holiday season, please call 911.

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