5 Typical Christmas Illnesses and How to Get Rid Of Them

Beyond the presents and celebrations, Christmas is also the time for sumptuous meals, late-night parties, and sniffles due to the cold weather. In this article, we will give you 5 tips on how to stay healthy and feel better over the holiday season.

Drink milk to prevent heartburn

Why is this time of year so much worse for heartburn symptoms? The delayed stomach emptying of fatty foods such as roast meats, potatoes cooked in goose fat, and brandy butter is partially to blame.

This causes the stomach to fill up more, produces more stomach acid, and increases the likelihood that the acid will ascend up the oesophagus and cause heartburn, which is a burning feeling behind the breastbone.

According to Peter Whorwell, a gastrointestinal professor at Manchester University, “you may be worried it’s a heart attack if you’ve never experienced chest pain before.”

However, heart attacks produce severe pain that can travel to the arms, especially the neck and left arm. Seek immediate medical attention if this kind of pain is occurring for you.

Chemicals like potassium hydrogen carbonate and sodium alginate, used in over-the-counter medications like Gaviscon, coat the oesophagus to avoid acid discomfort. They also form a gel on top of stomach fluid to neutralise acid and stop further acid from rising into the throat.

Although these treatments are “extremely effective,” Professor Whorwell continues, “if you have no heartburn remedies at home, try drinking milk for some temporary relief from symptoms: it will act as a buffer against the acid.”

Fruit juices include acid, which might exacerbate heartburn, according to him. Because they relax the valve that separates the top of the stomach from the oesophagus, “high-strength peppermint teas and preparations can also worsen heartburn even though they are sometimes recommended to settle the stomach and aid digestion.”

Stay hydrated to avoid headaches

Dehydration is the cause of a hangover’s splitting headache, nausea, and weariness; alcohol inhibits the hormone vasopressin, which tells the kidneys to retain fluid. This causes thirst, headaches, and exhaustion by increasing urine output and excessive fluid loss.

Alcohol also causes nausea and stomach pain by irritating the lining of the stomach and increasing the flow of acid.

Dr Ann Nainan, a GP in London, says: ‘It can take up to 24 hours for the body to clear the toxic by-products of alcohol metabolism. To rehydrate, drink one glass of water before bed, another on waking and then eight to ten cups during the day.

‘Also, you can try rehydration salts, take paracetamol or ibuprofen (if safe for you), and eat a healthy breakfast such as porridge or eggs and toast to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Helping the cells release glucose for energy is one of the liver’s functions, but breaking this down becomes more important when you drink alcohol. Low blood sugar can result from this, which can cause symptoms like headache, nausea, shakiness, and confusion.

Steer clear of greasy foods like fries because they slow down the emptying of your stomach, which might strain your digestive system. A 2020 study with 19 males that was published in the journal drinking and Alcoholism indicated that people who took a 1,200 mg dose of the amino acid L-cysteine supplement experienced fewer severe headaches and nausea associated to drinking.

It is believed that the molecule aids in the neutralisation of the hazardous alcohol byproduct acetaldehyde. The researchers concluded that the effects of L-cysteine were unique and ‘seem to have a future in preventing or alleviating these harmful symptoms’.

‘Despite the very small scale of the study, the intriguing findings could be a promising avenue to explore further for alleviating alcohol-related hangover symptoms,’ says Dr Nainan. L‑cysteine can also be found in eggs, turkey and yoghurt.

Keep the windows open

It’s possible that your runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing are the result of an allergic reaction to the mould on your Christmas tree rather than a cold.

A small sample of American trees was discovered to contain 50 different species of mould, two thirds of which produce symptoms of hay fever, according to a short study that was published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

According to Dr. Helen Evans-Howells, a general practitioner, allergy specialist, and trustee of Anaphylaxis UK, one in ten persons have a mould allergy, and it is known that pine trees can house mould spores.

“Mould spores from the tree multiply indoors in the warm weather and cause symptoms of allergies,” she explains. ‘Some people think they have a cold and it’s only when they put the tree outside after Christmas that they realise it was triggering their symptoms.

‘For most people the symptoms are fairly mild, although the mould spores may be a trigger for an asthma attack in those who have the condition.

‘An artificial tree can harbour dust mites if it’s been stored in the loft, or shed, and cause similar symptoms, particularly if you decorate it with dusty ornaments.’ Dr Evans-Howells recommends treating symptoms by opening windows to ventilate the room, getting someone else to clean up dust, taking antihistamines and using nasal steroid spray before putting your tree up and while it’s in the house.

Walk off the bloat 

Walking after a meal helps with digestion because it activates the stomach and boosts blood flow to all muscles, including the digestive system, which speeds up the body’s process of breaking down food.

While there isn’t much proof to support it, drinking chamomile tea may help break up gas in the digestive tract, taking peppermint oil capsules can help reduce bloating by relaxing the gut wall.

Moving your hand from right to left along the length of your large intestine can also help release wind that has become trapped.

Beat the festive blues

Clinical psychologist Dr. Roderick Orner, a visiting professor of primary and pre-hospital care at Lincoln University, says it’s normal to feel overwhelmed around Christmas and New Year’s.

According to a 2021 Skipton Building Society survey of 2,000 people, three out of ten said the holidays cause their mental health to “nosedive”.

According to Dr. Orner, “what we all need is a time away from stress, which is precisely what we don’t get at the moment.” Rest is crucial for both psychological and physical tiredness recovery.

Dr Gayle Watts, a clinical psychologist at Turning Tides Psychology, says we all have three emotional regulation systems: threat, drive and soothe.

“At Christmas, our drive system is often activated as we rush around doing things and seeing people and our threat system is often activated by all of the stress and anxiety that Christmas can bring.”