Five Tips For Staying Out Of The Emergency Room During (And Right After) Thanksgiving

For most people, the worst they'll have to deal with this Thanksgiving is a bad case of indigestion after one too many helpings of pumpkin pie. While Thanksgiving dangers to your waistline are nothing unexpected, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind if you want to avoid ending up spending the holiday in the emergency room instead of at home.

1.) Keep in mind that overindulgence can be deadly if you're diabetic.

It's easy to overindulge on holiday goodies, but if you're diabetic, the results can be disastrous. You need to make sure that if you decide to sneak an extra sliver of pie that you adjust your medication accordingly. Otherwise, you can end up suffering from either an extreme spike or drop in your blood sugar levels when you're least expecting it. If you're traveling to someone else's house for dinner, make sure to take your meter and your insulin with you, just in case.

2.) Remember that carving up the turkey can be hazardous to your health.

Most people only bring out the electric carver or the big carving knives a couple times of year at most—which means that they can end up fumbling through the process of cutting that big bird and hurt themselves instead. If you aren't proficient with a knife, pass the carving tools to someone that's more comfortable using them.

3.) Know that bacterial infections are a Thanksgiving gift that keeps on giving.

Most of the people suffering from bacterial infections end up in the ER in the days immediately following Thanksgiving, though it isn't unheard of on Thanksgiving itself, depending on whether or not your great Aunt knew how to properly prepare the stuffing to avoid salmonella. If food isn't prepared correctly or stored properly, symptoms of food poisoning like diarrhea, stomach cramps, and a fever can hit within 8-72 hours.

Listeria is another bacterial infection that can be a danger during the holidays, especially if raw vegetables aren't washed before they're put on a tray for nibbling or unpasteurized milk is served. Anybody with a poor immune system and pregnant women, in particular, should be on the watch for this particular problem—it generally presents itself with flu-like symptoms, like a fever, muscle aches, vomiting, and diarrhea. The chief danger, however, is that it can also enter the nervous system, causing much more severe problems, or affect an unborn child.

4.) Don't forget, you're no longer 20 and you're not a football star.

Unless you really are 20 and a football star, try to remember that indulging in a friendly game of football with the family can be hazardous to your health if you're sedentary most of the time. The temporary excitement of horsing around with your siblings or cousins can cause you to throw caution to the wind and end up with torn ligaments, lumbar sprains, and herniated discs very easily. Ankle sprains and broken toes are also a common problem. 

If you want to engage in a little family fun, consider loading up on Nerf guns and ammo and passing them out to anybody who wants to participate. Alternately, try to get everyone to agree to tag football only so that nobody ends up getting hurt in a tackle.

5.) Remember that alcohol and medication don't mix.

Finally, keep in mind that alcohol and many medications don't mix. If somebody passes around the beer or opens a couple of bottles of wine, be on the alert for any relatives who seem to be getting inebriated too quickly or who seem to be experiencing symptoms that a single drink can't produce, like severe dizziness, nausea, slurred speech, or unusual drowsiness. Don't chalk it up to the effects of the wine until you check to see if your guest is on any medication that might not be safe to mix with alcohol. A lot of people don't realize that certain ordinary medications and even a single glass of wine can be a deadly combination.