What Is Holiday Sickness?
Does getting sick on holidays sound familiar? Some health experts call this condition holiday sickness. Read on to find out why this happens, how to avoid getting sick on holidays, and, if you do, how to deal with it in the best possible way.
Why Do People Often Get Sick on Holidays?
“All I Want For Christmas Is You,” as Mariah Carey says, the holidays are an opportunity to spend time with your loved ones. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially when you have relatives living far away and can only see them once a year.
But all this togetherness can have a negative side: making people ill.
We saw this happening recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, where cases skyrocketed right after the holidays. According to health authorities, it won’t be different this year.1
The United States is facing a tripledemic of COVID, influenza, and syncytial vírus (RSV), crowding emergency services and causing medication shortages. The rise in respiratory disease cases results from the relaxation of precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing. What’s more, holidays mean spending lots of time with large groups, mostly indoors. So, we can expect many people to spread respiratory viruses instead of cheer this season.1
Holidays can also be stressful for some people, which can lower the body’s natural defenses. During holidays, we try to do everything for everyone. It's a race against time to clean and decorate the house, buy gifts, and prepare food. It’s also time to spend money without knowing if it will be possible to make ends meet. These concerns accumulate and can affect one’s health. 2
Stressful times can cause a reduction in the levels of immunoglobulin A (SIgA), a type of antibody that protects against infections in the mucous membranes of the mouth, airways, and digestive tract. This may explain why people are more susceptible to infections during holidays.2
In addition, the break in the usual routine makes people behave differently, such as drinking more and sleeping less, exacerbating the potential negative effects of the one’s health. 2
How To Avoid Getting Sick During the Holidays?
The most joyful time of the year can also become a headache (literally). Here’s what you can do to keep this from happening:1,2
- Listen to your body’s slow-down signals and make the holidays what they should be, a relaxing break.
- Get support from friends and family. Ask for help whenever you feel you can’t do everything alone.
- Maintain healthy behaviors – exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, and get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
- Drink plenty of fluids (at least eight glasses of water per day) and avoid too much alcohol.
- Stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccine, including boosters.
- Get a flu shot as soon as possible.
- Wash your hands more frequently and use a hand sanitizer when necessary.
- You don’t have to go to every party. Consider only attending the ones that are most important to you to limit exposure risk. You may also test for COVID-19 before gatherings.
How Do You Deal With Being Sick on Holidays?
If, despite taking all preventive measures, you end up getting sick anyway, the best thing to do is stay at home. Your body needs to recover, So ensure you get some rest.3
Second, it shows that you respect and care about others. After all, a contagious disease can quickly spread and cause severe illness in vulnerable people such as older adults and small children. 3
Take care of yourself as you would when you become ill on any other date. If symptoms worsen or do not improve within a few days, seek medical attention.4
It's not because you're sick that you need to be isolated. You can keep in touch with your friends and family through text messages or video conference. Put on your favorite movie and enjoy a lovely meal.
To Sum Up
The holidays are usually a happy time. But the rush to get everything done on time generates stress, which can hinder the body’s natural defenses. It also brings people together in closed spaces, favoring the spread of respiratory viruses. Prevention measures are essential, especially for the most vulnerable people. And if you’re already sick: stay home.
How have you been after all the holiday craze?
- Lots of people will get sick over the holidays this year. Here's how to avoid it. Today. Available: https://www.today.com/health/how-to-avoid-getting-sick-holidays-rcna61695. Access: 12/26/2022.
- Holiday really can make you ill, leading academic warns. University of Birmingham. Available: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/2013/holiday-really-can-make-you-ill-leading-academic-warns. Access: 12/26/2022.
- Flu and Covid: People told to avoid mixing at Holiday if unwell. BBC News. Available: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-64074088. Access: 12/26/2022.
- What to do if you get flu over Holiday? HSC Public Health Agency. Available: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/what-do-if-you-get-flu-over-holiday. Access: 12/26/2022.