Business closures are a common thing over the holidays, and while most closures don't affect the community greatly, the absence of access to medical services can create issues. Health may not be the first thing on your mind over the festive season, however common medical problems during the holidays often arise from forgetting medications, too much food, too much drinking, new Christmas presents, or too much sun, and all are preventable. The team from Anson Street Medical have shared their expert advice for holiday health.
The best bet is to plan ahead. If you are on regular medications, make sure you have enough for the holiday period, and get in touch with your GP or pharmacy ASAP if you need to arrange a repeat script or have a script filled. If you are travelling, make sure you pack your medications. Many people forget to take their medications with them, and it can be difficult and stressful to arrange scripts at short notice during the holiday break. One of the simplest and easiest things you can do to enjoy your holiday is to make sure you plan your medications for the whole holiday period.
Food allergies, food poisoning, or over-indulging in alcohol are common avoidable issues when gathering with family or friends over the holiday break. Leftovers need to be stored properly to avoid contamination, and avoid stomach upsets, vomiting or diarrhoea from food poisoning. Keep an eye on alcohol intake, and provide plenty of non or low-alcohol options. If you have allergies or anaphylaxis, it can be a tricky time with shared food at events. In case of anaphylaxis, this can be life threatening and you should call 000.
Often injuries and accidents arise from Christmas gifts of bikes, skate-boards, or scooters. Well-fitting safety wear is really important, along with supervision while learning. There can also be injuries from parents assembling Christmas gifts, burns from Christmas cooking, or falls from people setting up Christmas lights or decorations, so consider safety when planning your Christmas celebrations.
Sunburn and heatstroke can be a problem throughout summer. Remember to keep up fluids (non-alcoholic) and wear sun protective clothing and sunscreen. January is often a good time to get a skin check for any unusual skin spots or moles, but the best method to avoid skin cancer is the prevention of sun exposure.
While the Christmas and New Year period can be a joyful time, it can be stressful or lonely for some. Meeting up with family and friends, can also be worrying or raise anxiety levels. For some it can be a lonely time, particularly if away from family, and missing loved ones. Be aware of sensitivities and stress around the holidays, recognizing that it can be a difficult time. Seek assistance if needed from services such as Lifeline which is a crisis support service for those thinking about suicide or experiencing emotional distress. Phone Lifeline 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au
Unfortunately COVID continues to challenge communities and health services alike. If you can, celebrate your Christmas outdoors with plenty of ventilation, avoid crowded indoor settings, and be alert to symptoms of COVID. Common symptoms including a fever (37.5 degrees or higher), cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, runny nose, loss of taste or loss of smell. Get tested if you have symptoms, with testing clinics site across NSW found at https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/stay-safe/testing/clinics. You can also call the National Coronavirus and COVID Helpline on 1800 020 080.