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Holiday Stress & Visits to the ER

Summary: How can you be safe and healthy during the stressful holiday season?
Air Date: 12/5/14
Duration: 10
Host: Leigh Vinocur, MD
Guest Bio: James Williams, MD
Dr. James Williams has served as emergency department medical director at Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital since 2002. He also is vice chief of staff at the Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital.

Dr. Williams earned his bachelor's degree in biology from Loyola College in 1985. After graduating in 1991 from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine on an Army scholarship, he completed a surgical internship at Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. He completed a year as a general medical officer at Fort Hood prior to doing his general surgery residency at Brook Army Medical Center. Beginning in July 1996, he served as the brigade surgeon for First Armored Division Artillery in Germany and Bosnia.

Dr. Williams is active regionally and nationally serving on the board of directors for the Texas College of Emergency Physicians and the Public Relations Committee for the American College of Emergency Physicians. He also is the medical director for Master Train, a regional medical education company and EMS Director for Southwest Ambulance. In addition, Dr. Williams is a consultant for WOAI TV's morning show SA Living and the San Antonio Express News.
Holiday Stress & Visits to the ER
The holidays can be a fun, exciting, and joyous time for many; but they can also be a stressful time for others. From overspending to juggling schedules and managing expectations, trying to keep it all together can do harm to your health if you're not careful.

For instance, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are roughly 76 million causes of food poisoning that occur during the holiday season.

Another reason you might take a trip to the ER during the holidays is because of the decorations. Even though decorating the Christmas tree and putting up festive lights in your yard can put you in the holiday spirit, doing so can pose some serious danger if not done safely.

You may want to consider using non-breakable ornaments, make sure your large tree is secure, and if you have little ones, it may be wise to put up a gate that blocks the entrance to the room where the tree is in order to keep them from trying to grab (or climb up) the tree.

Even though these are all examples of how your holiday can turn into an ER nightmare, the most common reason people land in the ER is because of stress. Stress can lead to overeating and excessive drinking and can spike your blood pressure... which could increase your risk for a heart attack or other drastic health issues.

What are some tips to stay healthy and stress-free during the holidays?

One thing you might do without realizing it is over-scheduling yourself and your family members. Even though you may be trying to please everyone, sometimes you just have to say NO. You may also want to dedicate time for yourself during the holiday season. Exercise can help reduce tons of stress and help boost your mood as well.

What else can you do to help lower your stress during the holidays?

Dr. James Williams discusses what physicians see in the ER this time of year, as well as some advice to help you ease potential problems.