What do you get when you mix a real Christmas tree covered in glass ornaments, a couple poinsettia plants, and a table piled high with food?
Let’s just say: You better watch out!!
Or, at least prepare yourself to handle the hidden dangers of the holidays. Here are just a few of the most common injuries and ailments we see at the Urgency Room in Woodbury and information to help you decide if it’s worth a trip to the doctor.
- Poinsettia plants
There is much debate as to whether poinsettia plants are toxic. Of course, you want to keep these plants away from small children. But, if an instance does arise, in which a child consumes any part of the plant, you want to watch the child. Is he or she vomiting? Is the child showing a rash of any sort? If so, it’s worth a trip to the doctor or the UR.
Many patients in the E.R complain of stomach pain, chest pain and other ailments that may seem serious… but are really the result of eating too much or gastro upset. Try taking an antacid with a full glass of water, which helps your body absorb the medicine. If the chest pain continues or is followed by shortness of breath, lightheadedness, nausea/vomiting or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck or jaw, then it is time to seek medical attention.
- Food Poisoning versus Gastroenteritis
So many people are transporting food, leaving it out too long and just not paying attention when it comes to food safety during the holiday season. Add to that the increasing cases of gastroenteritis (commonly called stomach flu) and you get a lot of people dealing with vomiting, nausea and an overall yucky feeling. The key for both conditions is to make sure you do not get dehydrated. Try drinking liquids, even in very small amounts. Head to the doctor if you or your children are showing common signs of dehydration including: excessive thirst, dry mouth, little or no tears, very dark urine, little or no urine, weakness, lethargy or dizziness.
- Christmas Trees
Of course tree fires are common and dangerous, but don’t forget about the glass ornaments and lights. Many small children are taken to the hospital suffering from lacerations, electrocution, eye injuries and other serious holiday tree mishaps.
Here’s a quick guide to help you decide if a cut needs a Band-Aid… or stitches:
- For cuts less than 1/2 inch in length that stop bleeding after 8-10 minutes of pressure, stitches are not generally necessary.
- Wounds that usually require suturing are those that are larger than 1/2 inch, triangular, starlike or irregular in shape. Head to the doctor if the cut is on a joint, eyelid, lip or face. Even when cuts in these areas are small, stitches may help the wound heal with less scarring.
With all those platters of turkey, mash potatoes, gravy and more… it’s no wonder burns are a big problem during the holiday season. There are three words to remember when trying to determine if your burn requires immediate medical attention.
- DEPTH of the burn: How deep does the burn appear to be? Third degree burns require immediate attention. These are the burns that damage the epidermis and dermis, as well as blood vessels, nerves and glands. The outer layer of keratin is also gone, allowing moisture to escape.
- SIZE of the burn: If the burn is large, covering a significant part of the arm, hand, leg or any part of the body, best to see a doctor right away.
- WHERE the burn is located: Burns on the face, palm, fingers and feet are cause for concern and worth a trip to the doctor if they are very painful, deep or large.
Also make sure the stress of the holiday doesn’t take away from your time with family and friends. Enjoy food and drinks in moderation and start the New Year both happy and healthy! Cheers and happy holidays to you all!
—Dr. Gary Gosewisch ER Physician and CEO of the Urgency Room in Woodbury