Holiday Hazards

Here’s the low down on some holiday hazards that may surprise you.

  • Candy canes. What can an innocent candy cane do? Give you heartburn. Dr. Byron Cryer is a gastroenterologist in Dallas and he says, peppermint oil has been shown to relax the muscle at the opening of your esophagus allowing food to back up and cause that telltale burning sensation. That’s why peppermint is actually good for nausea – it quells your stomach, but that relaxed state can cause acid to creep up from your stomach.
  • Another surprising holiday hazard: Driving home late. If you know that a holiday get-together is going into the wee hours, don’t stay until the bitter end. A recent study found that drowsy drivers were twice as likely to crash as those who were well rested. If you have to be on the roads late at night, drink two cups of coffee prior to leaving so the caffeine kicks in when you need it. That advice comes from Dr. Mark Pressman, director of sleep medicine services at Lankenau Hospital in Pennsylvania. If your eyes start feeling heavy, don’t take any chances, just pull over and rest.                     
  • The final holiday hazard you may not know about: Lighting a fire in the hearth. While it adds to the ski lodge ambiance, smoke contains unburned wood particles that irritate your lungs, especially if you have asthma. That’s the word from Dr. Brenda Guyer, an allergy and asthma specialist at Park Nicollet Clinic in Minnesota. She says, save fires for special occasions and use glass doors to screen your fireplace and protect your lungs.

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