Originally Published on Monday, December 7, 2015
The winter months come with their own special health challenges. From delicious food everywhere you look to harsh weather conditions to the stress of creating a perfect holiday, the season can be challenging. To help ensure a happy, safe holiday season, experts from the University of Pennsylvania‘s health schools, as part of the One Health Initiative, are offering health tips each day this week.
Thinking about your New Year’s resolutions? Spending quality time with your pet through exercise can help keep both you and your furry family member healthier by lowering blood pressure, reducing both the risk of obesity and heart disease, and ultimately, having a positive effect on mental wellbeing and connectedness through the human-animal bond. http://penn-medicine-health-newsletter.blogspot.com/2015/03/your-pup-may-be-best-workout-buddy.html
Avoid the “festive 15” with tips from a Penn Med physician: http://penn-medicine-health-newsletter.blogspot.com/2015/11/healthy-eating-tips-for-holiday-season.html
Quit smoking and improve your gum health. Smoking affects the tissue and bone surrounding your teeth and increases your chance of getting periodontal (gum) disease, and untreated gum disease can eventually lead to tooth loss. Make a 2016 resolution to ask your dentist or dental hygienist for resources to help you stop smoking.
Prepare for the feasting. The period between Thanksgiving and the end of the year offers countless holiday parties, most of which will include some sort of food. It may sound counterintuitive, but don’t skip meals on those days; rather eat something healthy (think fruits or vegetables) ahead of time so you’re not arriving with your stomach grumbling.
Need holiday fun ideas on a budget? Do a scavenger hunt in the house and think of a fun “choice” prize for the winner!
Be sure to think of your pets as you deck the halls this holiday season! Tinsel can cut the intestines and cause severe injuries when ingested. Electric wires look especially appetizing to puppies and kittens. If they succeed in chewing them, they can suffer burns or shock. Glass ornaments and ornament hooks can break easily, cutting your pet’s mouth, esophagus, or intestines. Dough ornaments, which are high in salt content, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and in severe cases, seizures. http://www.vet.upenn.edu/about/press-room/press-releases/article/important-tips-from-penn-vet-to-keep-pets-safe-during-the-holidays-2015
The snow needs to go but don’t overdo it. Learn how to prevent snow shoveling injuries: http://penn-medicine-orthopaedics.blogspot.com/2014/01/prevent-snow-shoveling-injuries.html
Join the no-cavity club in 2016. Put your toddlers on the path to the no-cavity club by having their first dental visit by their first birthday and avoid sugary snacks to help prevent cavities.
Healthy eating helps your oral health. Simple steps, like drinking water instead of sodas or sports beverages, or eating fruit for dessert instead of sweet treats, will cut down sugar as well as overall calories, and help you reduce your risk for cavities as well as lose weight.
Invest time in that “one” thing you’ve been hoping to do (but putting off) all year.
Maintain your pet’s regular diet during the holidays. Treats of turkey, ham, gravy, cookies, and other goodies can lead to gastrointestinal upsets. And be sure that all of your guests and family members know and understand what your pets can and cannot consume! http://www.vet.upenn.edu/about/press-room/press-releases/article/important-tips-from-penn-vet-to-keep-pets-safe-during-the-holidays-2015
Unrealistic or overly romantic notions of what holidays should be can be a trigger for stress. Here are some tips on managing stress and enjoying the joyful season: http://penn-medicine-health-newsletter.blogspot.com/2015/11/managing-holiday-stress.html
As the hours of daylight grows shorter and fall weather moves in, for some, the “winter blues” are beginning to set in. Find out how to fight Seasonal Affective Disorder: http://penn-medicine-health-newsletter.blogspot.com/2015/02/experiencing-winter-blues-how-to-fight.html
Get checked for oral cancer. Approximately 39,500 people in the U.S. were newly diagnosed with oral and oropharyngeal cancers in 2015, but if found early, they have an 80 to 90 % survival rate. A screening can be done quickly by your dentist; ask about one at your next dental exam.
Check in. Children can’t always verbalize their troubles, so take the time to see how they’re doing. Do this by using art and play.
The phrase “bulking up for winter” is no joke! Horses expend significantly more calories keeping warm in the winter than they do any other time of year. High-quality hay should be the staple of any winter diet, especially for horses that are outside a lot. They should have dry, fresh hay available at all times to keep their caloric losses less than their gains.
Keep your pets safe from poisonous plants this holiday season! Plants to be vigilant about include lilies, which are extremely toxic to cats, and holly, which can cause injury to the mouth, tongue, and lips, as well as severe vomiting and diarrhea. Toxicity from poinsettias is often exaggerated. The thick sap inside the stem is toxic, but a healthy dog or cat that eats part of the plant will only display symptoms such as vomiting, lack of appetite, and depression.
Before shoveling snow, know the signs of heart attack.
Build healthy teeth and gums. Make a dental visit a high priority in 2016 to help get your teeth and gums in the best shape possible. Yearly dental visits catch dental problems early, and brushing for two minutes, twice daily goes a long way to remove bacteria that cause both dental decay and gum disease. Cleaning in between teeth with floss or dental pics removes hard to reach bacteria, and using fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinses restores minerals in teeth to prevent decay.
Devices down! Spend some time in nostalgic bliss engaging in fun, face-to-face activities for the whole family.