November 16, 2017


Hitting the road

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It’s the week of Thanksgiving, a time of traveling, trading and tasting. If you’re one of the more than 40 million Americans who will be on the road this week, be prepared for congested roadways and busy airports and terminals. If you’re still planning on booking a flight this week, be prepared to spend about 13 percent more on a domestic flight than you did last year, as the cost of jet fuel has increased dramatically due to disruptions caused in Texas by Hurricane Harvey. When packing for your flight, save room in your carry-on bag for spare clothes and essential items like prescriptions in case your luggage is delayed or lost. Remember to check with your airline, online or by phone, before you leave home to see if your flight is leaving on schedule. If your airline lets you check in online 24 hours before a flight, you can dodge crowded airport lineups. And be sure to pack some snacks and something to read in case of an unexpected delay.

Family Health History

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Thanksgiving brings families together each year, a time of traditions and sharing. If you want to start a new tradition, try sharing information about your family’s medical history. In 2004, the U.S. Surgeon General set Thanksgiving Day aside as National Family History Day. Family health history is important to your health and can help you detect unique disease risks and manage them before becoming sick, or find the right diagnosis and treatments when you have a certain disease. Collecting and acting on your family health history is also important to your loved ones, who could benefit from better knowledge of their health risks and those of their children.  So talk to your family about any conditions they may have or had, and at what age the conditions were first diagnosed. Ask if any common adult diseases like diabetes, cancer or arthritis run in the family. And be sure to record the information and share it with your doctor and family members.

Fire safety

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Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and most people are focusing on friends and food when they should also be considering fires. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than three times the average daily rate of cooking fires occur in this country on Thanksgiving. Family gatherings occur with more frequency as the holiday season draws near. With more entertaining comes more cooking. To stay safe in the kitchen, avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing with long sleeves near ranges or ovens and watch children closely so they don’t come into contact with cooking food or hot stovetops. Be sure to turn pan handles toward the back of the stove to prevent kids and others from spilling a pan’s scalding contents onto themselves. Many people bring out candles for lighting or decoration on Thanksgiving, make sure all candles have at least 12 inches of clearance around them and keep them away from windows where curtains could catch fire.

Take a time-out

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Today is Thanksgiving, a day of reflection for many and for others, a day of stress and strain. The holidays can take a toll on your health. There’s only so much time for cooking, shopping and entertaining. Many people approach the holidays with high expectations, thanks to movies and television shows that depict the end of the year as magical. When reality doesn’t provide the movie moment, we can become disappointed in ourselves or our families. Instead, change your vision of the holidays and focus more on the positive. Often we make plans or offer invitations not out of true desire, but because we think we “should.” If it is difficult to decide what you want to do, then think about what you DON’T want to do. If you feel upset after visiting with certain people, change your plans or limit your time with them. And remember to make time for yourself. Spending 15 minutes alone may refresh you enough to find that last-minute gift.

“Green” Christmas

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Wouldn’t it be nice to have a “green” Christmas? Consider this. If every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. So try to use fewer resources when shopping, giving presents or wrapping gifts this holiday season. Take your own bags on shopping trips and keep them in the car so they’re always available. Conserve energy by combining several shopping trips into one or by carpooling with others. Buy cards that are printed in non-toxic inks. Donate to a charity or service organization in the name of a friend or relative who supports that cause. Give gifts that are durable, energy-efficient, recyclable, or made of natural products. Use creative materials for gift wrapping, like scarves or handkerchiefs, old maps or reusable tins or baking pans. And consider alternatives to battery-powered toys. If you must provide batteries for a gift, be sure to buy rechargeable ones.

Trusted by thousands of listeners every week, T. Glenn Pait, M.D., began offering expert advice as the host of UAMS’ “Here’s to Your Health” program in 1996. Dr. Pait began working at UAMS in 1994 and has been practicing medicine for over 20 years.