With the beginning of the winter solstice next week and many winter holidays being celebrated, it is a great time to think about how to best prepare for colder weather and holiday gatherings. Gout, a form of inflammatory arthritis as a result of high levels of uric acid in your blood, is known as “the disease of kings” due to its association with rich foods and drinks. Over the holiday season, we tend to allow ourselves to indulge or overindulge in foods like organ meats, red meat, fatty fish, and shellfish as well as in alcoholic beverages including beer and drinks mixed with soda pop or sugary juices. These foods and drinks can increase the possibility of experiencing a gout attack. An estimated 6 million Americans have gout, and some famous people want to help spread the word about what gout is, what a gout attack may look like, and how important prevention and treatment can be to improving your health. In this Huffington Post article, author Dr. Mache Seibel takes a look at Santa Claus’ experience with gout. Additionally, comedian and actor Jim Belushi has personally had experiences with gout. Belushi provides a “Holiday Health Warning” in addition to his campaign to get Americans to Check Out Your Gout.
Holiday eating is not the only concern during the winter season. Gift-giving can be a source of stress for many due to crowded stores and parking lots, sticking to a budget, and finding the “perfect” gift for friends and family. For individuals with arthritis or other chronic health conditions where physical needs may be greater, a thoughtful gift may include adaptive tools and supplies to help make independent living at home easier. Adaptive tools can assist individuals with basics including getting dressed, moving in and out of rooms in a house easily, cooking, and gardening. Another gift idea for family and friends with arthritis is to provide home services personally, or to purchase gift cards/certificates to organizations that can provide services, such as lawn mowing, cleaning, hair salons, spas, and gym memberships.
Perhaps most importantly, as the weather continues to turn colder, it is important to keep track of your health and to stay warm. Winter weather can cause disruptions in power service, so being prepared in case of an emergency is a benefit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have an “Extreme Cold” Prevention Guide and the National Institutes on Aging (NIA) has a reference for aging adults on staying safe in cold weather for your reference. Being prepared for winter weather as well as being prepared for the holidays can help you self-manage your chronic health conditions and stay healthy and safe throughout this winter season!