The festive season is upon us and we’re all getting ready to celebrate with family and friends. With Christmas parties now in full swing and festive markets with mulled wine stalls being popular, the amount of food and alcohol we consume as a nation at this time of year will inevitably increase. The temptation to drink alcohol or eat too much can be very hard to resist and can have a negative impact on your health. If I could give you one piece of advice this Christmas it would be to enjoy yourself but don’t overindulge as it can have some serious consequences for your health.
Drinking alcohol raises blood pressure over time, and increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Also alcohol consists of roughly 7 calories per gram! Compared with fat at about 9 calories per gram and carbohydrates at 3.75 calories per gram, alcohol is high in calories. Consuming these extra calories may lead to weight gain; and when a person is overweight, it places more strain on the heart, which causes raised blood pressure. In the longer term the extra weight will cause a strain on your joints leading to wear and tear, this is known as osteoarthritis.
While the health risks associated with drinking too much alcohol are certainly there, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a drop or two over the festive period. Just remember to be sensible, especially if you have a long-term condition e.g. COPD/asthma, heart disease, diabetes stroke etc. Those of you who have a long-term condition should be aware of your own condition and when your condition gets to the point that you need to seek advice from a practice nurse at your GP Practice.
Make sure you are stocked up and ready - with medication not alcohol! Remember, GP practices will be closed during bank holidays over the festive period so check you have the medication you need to get through the festivities. Be prepared with essential medicines in case you get ill, such as paracetamol and cold reliefs, they are available in local supermarkets and pharmacies.
There are still ways to get help and advice from health professionals even when GPs are not at work. Highly qualified local pharmacists are available at times when GP practices are closed and can give advice on a wide range of common health problems and the best medicines to treat them. They prescribe from a range of medications so you don’t even have to go to your doctor for some things. 24 hour health advice and support is available through the NHS 111 service, who can direct you to an appropriate service should you need to see a clinician.
Season’s Greetings to one and all. Enjoy the festive period celebrating with family and friends and here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018.