Top reasons people end up in the ER on Thanksgiving and tips for a safe holiday

The Surprising Reasons Why Thanksgiving is a Busy Day for Emergency Rooms

Thanksgiving Day is traditionally a time for family, friends, food, and football, but it can also lead to unexpected trips to the emergency room. “There is usually light volume on Thanksgiving Day, but post-Thanksgiving dinner is when we usually see a surge in the ER,” says Dr. Poonam Desai, a board-certified osteopathic physician specializing in lifestyle medicine and emergency medicine.

Dr. Kelly Dougherty, a health care clinical instructor at the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Emergency Medicine at NYU Langone Health, agrees that the holiday can lead to health issues. “As people gather, they spread their germs,” she explains. “When they head home, they take those germs with them and can develop symptoms of infection, like COVID or influenza, a few days later.”

According to medical experts, the top reasons for emergency room visits on Thanksgiving Day are often holiday-related injuries. They include cuts and burns from kitchen accidents, stomach pain from overeating, heart palpitations from emotional stress, and car accidents from holiday travel.

Cuts and burns are common in the kitchen during Thanksgiving prep. If you cut yourself, Dr. Dougherty recommends applying pressure with a clean paper towel and seeking medical evaluation for deep wounds. Burn awareness is also crucial, with Thanksgiving being a peak day for home cooking fires. If you experience minor burns, treating them as soon as possible can prevent further damage.

To avoid accidents in the kitchen, it’s important to prep in advance and ask for help if needed. Sharpening knives before the holiday, using an electric knife to carve the turkey, and not multitasking can reduce the risk of injuries. It’s also crucial to stay in the kitchen while cooking and to be mindful of various safety measures, such as gently adding oil to avoid splattering.

Stomach pain on Thanksgiving often stems from overeating and food poisoning. Dr. Desai advises monitoring symptoms and seeking medical evaluation if unable to stay hydrated. Additionally, drinking alcohol in excess can lead to various injuries, making it important to be mindful of alcohol consumption.

Emotional stress can contribute to heart palpitations, anxiety, and panic attacks. Identifying stressful triggers, managing travel details carefully, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and practicing stress-reducing techniques can help reduce emotional strain.

Finally, Dr. Desai recommends giving yourself plenty of travel time to avoid the stress of rushing. Bad weather and increased road traffic during the Thanksgiving travel period can lead to an increase in car accidents.

Overall, taking precautions during the Thanksgiving holiday can help prevent accidents, health issues, and unexpected trips to the emergency room.


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