Thanksgiving Injuries, Avoiding and Tips on Treating from PhysicianOne


Dr. Brian Cruz, regional medical director of PhysicianOne Urgent Care, with a new location on West Central Street, said the holidays are some of the most common times for injuries and accidents, requiring people to make a last-minute trip to their local urgent care. If there’s a mishap carving the turkey or a yearly touch football match goes a little too far, we recommend getting checked out by a medical professional to avoid any additional injuries later on down the line.

A few years ago, Olympia Medical Center in Los Angeles tallied up the most common sources of ER visits on Thanksgiving in their region -- and how to avoid them.

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 Dr. Stephen Carney, 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 Dr. Carson Liu, 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 over do 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 whip 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 Dr. 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 Dr. Ian Renner, 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.

Closer to home, Dr. Cruz said, Some of the most common holiday injuries we have seen at PhysicianOne Urgent Care over the years include twisted ankles, minor burns, small cuts or abrasions and stomach pain.

"If you or a loved one experience any of these ailments we recommend visiting your local urgent care center as wait times in emergency rooms can be long this time of year," said Cruz. "Virtual Care is also a great option if you need a medical opinion before venturing out on a holiday," he added.

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