Thanksgiving is a day to feel thankful, enjoy the company of family and friends, cheer for a favorite football team and enjoy a colossal meal. For many, in addition to a heavenly pumpkin pie, the star of the show is a delicious turkey. To help keep the focus where it should be – on celebrating, rather than on dealing with the stress of an injury – it’s a good idea to take a few minutes beforehand to learn about some common accidents that often occur around the holiday. This can help you prevent them from sneaking up on you and spoiling the fun as you prepare, eat and wrap up your Thanksgiving Day feast.
Here are a few of the medical issues that physicians routinely see around holidays, along with some tips on how to address them:
- Food poisoning caused by an undercooked turkey – Although it is relatively simple, preparing a turkey is a task that many cooks – including some of the nation’s most seasoned chefs – take on only a few times a year. Even Martha Stewart, who is widely known as an authority on home living, has reportedly had problems stemming from the improper handling of a raw bird. Eating undercooked turkey can cause food poisoning (salmonella), and the resulting diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration. If you believe that you may have a foodborne illness, stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and if the abdominal pain is severe, seek immediate medical care.
- Burns – Most kitchens are busy hubs of activity around Thanksgiving, with multiple people bustling around hot stoves, ovens, pots and dishes. Sometimes, these circumstances create a hectic environment in which people can easily get burned. Minor burns can usually be treated at home by running the burned skin under cool water until the pain subsides, and then covering it with a bandage. If additional relief is needed, over-the-counter pain relievers can help. Large burns, as well as those affecting the face, neck or hands, always warrant prompt medical attention.
- Muscle sprains and strains – After Thanksgiving dinner, many families head outdoors to play a friendly game of touch football, which is a great alternative to sitting in front of a TV. However, some people who are generally inactive throughout the rest of the year may be inspired to get in on the lively fun, and this can end badly in the form of injuries. If you suspect a muscle sprain or strain, you should rest with the affected leg or arm above your heart to help reduce swelling. If needed, you can apply an ice pack and take an over-the-counter pain reliever. If the pain and swelling last for more than a few days, you should see a physician.
- Hangovers – Celebrating can sometimes become too much of a good thing – especially if it involves drinking alcoholic beverages. You might discover this on the morning after, when you wake up feeling queasy and achy all over. Good hydration can help you feel and function better, so be sure to drink plenty of water or electrolyte-rich sports drinks throughout the day.
By being aware of the types of injuries that can happen, and taking a few precautions, you can keep yourself and your family safe while you maintain a festive spirit throughout the holiday season.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we wish everyone a safe and healthy Thanksgiving. We also encourage anyone who is interested in learning about the symptoms of colorectal cancer (which often mimic those of food poisoning) or has other cancer-related questions to call 1-888-MOFFITT or complete a new patient registration form online. No referrals are required to speak with our oncologists.