Christmas medical kit
We're all busy thinking about Christmas by now - but have you spared a thought, among all those shopping lists of Brussels sprouts and mince pies, of what you might need to look after your health? A little time in planning could stop medical problems ruining your festivities. Even if disaster does strike, you may find household staples like bicarbonate of soda, cling film and cranberry juice could come to the rescue!
Scalds and burns
Whether you've been splashed with hot turkey fat or tripped and spilt your hot tea, scalds are very common at Christmas time. Superficial burns smaller than the size of your hand can often be dealt with at home, but even these can be painful, so you'll need regular painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen for a few days.
Following a burn, run the affected area under cold water for 20 minutes, but never use ice. Remove rings, bracelets or watches if your arm is affected, as they can cut off circulation when the area swells. Never apply butter or oil, cover burns with sticky or fluffy dressings, or burst blisters by pricking them. Cling film, believe it or not, is perfect for covering burns to keep them sterile if you need to go to hospital, but apply it in layers rather than wrapping it round an arm or leg so it doesn't put pressure on the limb if it swells.
Forget the newspaper stories about miracle hangover cures. The only one way to avoid a hangover is not to drink too much! Hangovers are partly a result of your body processing the toxins in alcohol and partly due to dehydration, because it's also a diuretic. But I'm not a complete killjoy - with a few precautions, you can still enjoy a drink or two.
- Eat before you start drinking to reduce the speed you absorb alcohol
- Alternate alcoholic with soft drinks or opt for shandy or wine spritzer rather than beer or wine
- Avoid dark alcohol (port, red wine, dark spirits) which are high in congeners that contribute to hangovers.
If you do wake with a hangover:
- Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids to reduce dehydration
- Never be tempted by a 'hair of the dog'
- Eat something - bananas and kiwi or fresh fruit juice will replenish vitamins and minerals.
Cystitis - burning and stinging when you pass water , needing to pass water more often, smelly urine and tummy pain - goes hand in hand with getting dehydrated, so can be more common at Christmas. If you feel an attack coming on, drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids, including cranberry juice. A teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda dissolved in water and drunk may taste horrid but can relieve symptoms until you can speak to a doctor.
Medicines - think ahead
Every year at Christmas, we get swamped with last minute requests for top-ups of regular medicines at the last minute. Make sure you put in your requests for repeat prescriptions in good time. The prescription needs to be checked and printed then sent to the pharmacy, who dispense the tablets. This usually takes a couple of days and last-minute panics over whether your medicine will be ready are not good for your blood pressure!
With thanks to 'My Weekly' magazine where this article was originally published.