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Happy Holidays, Risky After-Effects?

Happy Holidays, Risky After-Effects?

Indulgent behaviour and how it affects physical wellbeing…

The Holidays… a time of great cheer, happiness and indulgence. The thought of family get-togethers and time-honoured traditions brings a smile to most faces. It is a great way to spend time away from the general hustle and bustle of life experienced throughout the year.

But, such traditions are often accompanied by overindulgent behaviour. It is also tradition to tuck into rich and grand meals; decadent sweets and copious amounts of alcohol, particularly in the South African sub-culture – a drink can easily become six, a plate of stuffed Turkey and roast potatoes is suddenly three, and a bowl of delicious Malva pudding becomes a third and even a fourth helping. This continuous behaviour is a testament to the “let loose” factor so many of us employ at our holiday dinners and throughout the holiday season. Granted, it is not a prolonged pattern for most people, however, with the sudden upsurge in consumption, the human system reacts in undesirable ways.

What are the effects of overindulgence?

Fatty and salty foods, tend to cause high blood pressure. According to Holland (2021), when one eats salt, the body retains more fluid to offset the effect of the salt which raises blood volume and, therefore, blood pressure. Sugar-filled foods have a similar effect, and, when consumed in excess, can lead to undesirable health complications.

High Blood pressure can lead to various physical ailments:

  • Recurring Headaches
  • Chest Pain
  • Vision Problems
  • Laboured breathing (difficulty)
  • Flushing of the face (warmth and redness)
  • Dizziness
  • An irregular Heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Blood in the urine

High blood pressure may eventually lead to the constriction and hardening of veins and arteries, ultimately, resulting in high-risk blood thrombus (blood clot), which, if left unchecked can dislodge and have fatal repercussions, heart disease and even a stroke. Some less- serious but still uncomfortable effects can include indigestion, heartburn and bloating.

Alcohol is as common around the table during the holidays, as wearing a hard hat on a construction site – it could almost be considered mandatory. During social occasions, it is common practice to enjoy a drink with good friends and family over a glorious feast. Over the holidays where most people are on, well… holiday, the fear of overindulging in alcohol lessens and often, we will enjoy more than one drink at a seating because, why not? With the social aspect of the holiday season in full swing, we may find ourselves hosting get-togethers and joining friends for dinner parties and “braais”, daily. The standard accessory, of course, the customary bottle of wine or six-pack of beers – where one may enjoy a drink or two, once or twice a week as a norm, these social occasions entice a binge, and consumption will increase. Many use alcohol to relieve stress during their break from the workplace and others consume it to increase feelings of pleasure due to the effect of boosted levels of dopamine. Heavy-drinking territory according to studies, lies in four-or-more beverages in a day for men, and three-or-more beverages in a day for women. Regular overconsumption can have undesirable effects on the body, even if undertaken over shorter recurring periods.

Blood-cholesterol levels will become elevated along with blood pressure. Long-term and potentially harmful problems may occur if the behaviour continues, likely, the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The liver is affected due to its function of filtration of the alcohol and the amount it needs to work to do so under such situations – long-term risks for the liver include liver disease and liver cancer.

But, how does this affect the workplace?

Hypertension (High blood pressure), particularly its symptoms, can impede an employee’s ability to function efficiently in the workplace and even more so, within the industrial workspace, whereby working with machinery and in higher-risk situations can cause unnecessary risk. A good example may be a construction worker, working on a high-rise development and due to elevated blood pressure, may experience dizziness – of course, the risk of a dangerous fall from a height is great and potentially harmful to the employee.

Another example – could be a worker operating an overhead crane. If the crane operator’s vision should become blurred due to hypertension and they misjudge the space required on a heavy-load move, they may cause equipment and property damage. Poor employee health and poor working conditions, has accounted for an average of 340 million occupational accidents worldwide since 2003, according to a study carried out by the International Labour Organization. These alarming statistics are testament to the importance of having a quality Health and Safety programme in place that monitors employees’ health status – many employers view such practices as costly and unnecessary feeders to their bottom line, but the perspective that should be taken is, how much would your business suffer as a result of employees shouldering undetected health problems?

How can you prevent potential accidents?

Risk is the key factor in the equation. When returning to work, many employees may be suffering from hypertension or higher cholesterol levels due to excessive behaviour over the now concluded festive season. Such effects are a risk in the workplace, particularly within arenas involving continuous physical tasks or operating heavy machinery.

The Mitigation of risk is the optimal plan and may prevent any potential accidents within the workplace. How can one mitigate it? Return-to-work screening of employees (for hypertension and other physical testing) can offer employers peace of mind in their return to work schedules. Such practice can provide managers accurate and important information, which assist them in sound and educated decision-making surrounding the safety of their workforce and their business practices.

Care Net Consultants undertake standard hypertension screening, urine analyses (testing for proteins and blood due to kidney problems brought on by hypertension), and body mass index as part of regular medical surveillance testing and they can provide cholesterol testing on request. The potential risk of workplace injury and liability can be managed if you have accurate and current health data on your workforce. Contact Care Net Consultants today for all your return-to-work screening requirements and ensure the festive season does not turn into “risk season.”

Care Net Consultants wishes you a Happy New Year!

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