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Deborah L. Outwater Healthy reminders for the holiday season

  • Published Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, at 7:13 a.m.

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The holiday season can be a lot of fun, but it also can be risky. Celebrations and shopping bring us in close contact with many people – and their germs – and put temptations in our path. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy during the holidays.

Practicing good hand-washing always makes sense. The most effective method is to wash for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water and dry with a clean towel.

If you feel a cough or sneeze coming on, cover your nose or mouth with a tissue. If that’s not an option, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow rather than your hand.

Try to make healthy food choices and stay active. Not only will you help your waistline, you will improve your ability to manage stress that often occurs during the holidays. With parties and extra treats at work, it’s easy to overindulge. Unless you have a medical condition that prohibits certain foods, you can enjoy your favorite holiday treats – just not all of them at every opportunity. Pick a few of your favorites or just a bite of several.

If you plan to attend a party, eat a nutritious snack before leaving home and bring a nutritious snack to add to the buffet. Also, limit your indulgence in alcoholic beverages. If you choose to partake, make sure you have a designated driver to get you home safely.

Speaking of traveling, be sure everyone in the car is buckled up appropriately. For little ones, use the correct car seat, booster seat or seat belt depending on their height and weight. Children 2 years of age and younger should be in a rear-facing child safety seat in the back seat of the car. Between ages 2 and 5, the safety seat can be turned forward. Children can transition to a booster seat after age 5 if they have outgrown their car seat, but they need a booster until they are at least 9 years old and 57 inches tall. For more information about safety belt and car seat use, see www.cdc.gov/features/passengersafety/.

Just because it’s the holiday season, you shouldn’t let regular health care go by the wayside. Be sure to keep current with all your necessary immunizations, especially influenza, pertussis, pneumonia and any others that your doctor recommends.

If you use tobacco products, give yourself and your family a great gift by “kicking the habit.” Your doctor can assist you with this lifesaving decision. You can also find advice and helpful tools at www.ksquit.org.

As we wind down 2013 and look ahead to 2014, plan for joyful holidays and a happy and healthy new year.

Dr. Deborah L. Outwater practices with the WesleyCare Family Medicine Center, 850 N. Hillside in Wichita. She may be reached at 316-962-3070.

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