Thanksgiving Health Hazards Can Land Partygoers in the ER


Other Accidents

The Vanderbilt ER in Nashville will be fully staffed this Thanksgiving as the staff gets ready for cooking accidents and family fights, resulting in cuts and bruises, Slovis said. The day will get busier as it gets later.

He said people often don't see their doctors on the days leading up to the holidays because they think they can deal with their minor symptoms. But often, they have to go to the hospital on Thanksgiving because they waited and their symptoms got out of hand.

And in Tennessee, a new Thanksgiving tradition has landed people in Vanderbilt's ER: deep-fried turkeys.

"It's so much harder to burn yourself if the turkey is going in the oven than if the turkey is going into hot, boiling oil," he said. "If not done carefully, it can cause a fire. The oil is extremely hot and splashes onto feet and hands."

Cold and Flu -- Don't Get Grandma Sick

Thanksgiving may be the beginning of the "most wonderful time of the year," but it also comes at the beginning of flu season. And with holiday hugs and handshakes, people should be mindful to wash hands regularly.

Slovis said sick guests should keep track of what they touch and be sure to use anti-bacterial gel regularly.

And there's still time to get a flu shot before the big family gathering, Slovis said, adding that people should ignore the notion that the flu shot can give people the flu.

"You were going to get the flu, and then you just happened to get the flu shot the day before," he said.

The shot should take seven to 10 days to kick in, and it will provide immunity just in time for the remaining winter holidays.

Secondhand Smoke in Airports

Although most restaurants and businesses are smoke-free, five hub airports still have smoking sections and restaurants, putting holiday travelers at risk for secondhand smoke inhalation. The CDC found that Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Denver International Airport, and Salt Lake City International Airport have five times more secondhand smoke air pollution than smoke-free airports.

With more than 110 billion passengers, the five airports accounted for about 15 percent of all air travel in 2011.

"What we found is that smoke does leak out of smoke-permitted areas," said CDC epidemiologist Brian King, who co-authored the study. "They claim that there's a ventilation system. ... We know from past research that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke."

The smoke can especially irritate the airways of travelers with asthma and other respiratory ailments. And, of course, it also has long term health effects, including lung cancer and heart disease.

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