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HEALTH HINTS

The most wonderful time of the year

By: Melissa Montellano-Ngo, MDThe most wonderful time of the year

The yuletide season can take on different meanings. For most people, Christmas means a well-deserved respite from work and spending quality time with loved ones, family, and friends. For others, the holidays equate to presents, feasts, and trips.

On the flipside, Christmas can bring out stress and pain for a number of reasons. Both noche buena and media noche involve countless preparations and tidying up. There is the Christmas rush which is equivalent to traffic and long queues. There are also parties to attend and important people to visit. Although the spirit is willing, sometimes the body is just too weak especially when headaches, muscle pains, and joint pains set in.

With all the happenings during Christmas, you do not want to turn into the Grinch. Keeping the stress at bay is key to make the season merry and bright for you and those around you. There are several techniques to manage stress and discomfort such as meditation, breathing exercises, hot and cold compresses, massages, aromatic oils, and liniments.  If the pain remains unrelieved, there are numerous oral analgesics available. Before popping or giving that pill, however, keep in mind the following pointers:

  • Check for allergies and make sure the medication is not yet expired.
  • Aspirin is not recommended for individuals younger than 20 years old. The use of aspirin in children is related to Reye’s syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Paracetamol is generally safe for pregnant women. However, ingesting other pain relievers without the advice of a doctor is not recommended.
  • If you have a chronic illness, it is best to consult your physician before starting the intake of analgesics.  Certain pain medications may adversely interact with your maintenance medications or increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Take the lowest effective dose and stop the medication once the pain has been relieved. Follow the recommended interval between drug intakes. High dosages and prolonged use increase the risk for side effects, such as tolerance, dependence, and liver damage.
  • Avoid ingesting pain relievers on an empty stomach. The frequent intake of pain killers can cause stomachache, heartburn or reflux, ulcers, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Some medications can cause drowsiness and dizziness. Do not mix alcohol with pain meds, especially opioids such as tramadol.
  • As always, seek professional advice if the pain is not relieved.

Remember, the holidays are meant to be enjoyed. Avoid overexerting yourself. If you have discomfort, try to relax and get adequate rest. You can be the Santa or the Mrs. Claus of the party. You can choose to celebrate the holidays by shopping for presents, cooking banquets, or travelling to new places.

Christmas can be observed by reflection and thanksgiving during religious activities. Moreover, Christmas can be a peaceful time at home with family, thus the importance of taking extra care of oneself. You do want to be available to your loved ones this season, don’t you? However we spend it, Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year if you are pain-free.

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