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Ho-ho-ho? Santa’s health habits are no laughing matter

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You better watch out, you better not ask why, ’cause it’s time to get honest about this jolly old guy. Santa Claus is one of the most beloved and recognized figures in the world. Also well known are his sometimes unhealthy habits and lifestyle—like his weight. Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett has health advice for jolly old St. Nicholas so he won’t need sick pay.

1. Overweight

  • Symptoms: Mid-section shakes like a “bowlful of jelly”
  • Concerns: Heart & vascular disease, obesity
  • Recommendation: Santa Claus’s extra weight puts him at risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and stroke. For someone like Santa dealing with obesity, a free cardiac age screening would help him know if he is young at heart. To sign up for your screening, go to MyCardiacAge.com.

2. Bad knees & back

  • Cause: Slinging sacks of toys up and down chimneys, arthritis from age
  • Recommendation: Santa could also check out free information online at SaintFrancisBartlett.com/KneePainGuide. It might be time Santa looked into a possible knee replacement.

3. Nose like a cherry

  • Concerns: Could be a sign of eczema, rosacea, wind burn, sun burn or frost bite
  • Recommendation: An annual skin cancer screening or a visit to the dermatologist is suggested. Check for allergies to reindeer, mistletoe and holly. Also, rosacea is often triggered by alcohol, so lay off the spiked eggnog.

4. Infectious diseases

  • Cause: Working in close proximity with under-the-weather elves and reindeer
  • Recommendation: The best stay-well winter strategy is a flu shot. Keep the stables clean and wash hands often when working with animals.

5. Diabetes

  • Cause: Christmas cookie diet, obesity
  • Recommendation: Try grabbing fresh fruit or share some carrot sticks with the reindeer instead of giving in to the Christmas Eve cravings. Getting out for regular walks with Mrs. Claus will help Santa stay away from a sedentary life that can make diabetes worse.

6. Lung cancer

  • Cause: Corncob pipe smoking, exposure to large amounts of chimney soot
  • Recommendation: Stop smoking immediately. Find alternative means of access to dwellings.

7. Snoring

  • Cause: Restless sleep due to worry over elf productivity in the workshop
  • Recommendation: Take part in a sleep study to make sure snoring isn’t a result of sleep apnea.

8. Carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Cause: He makes lots of lists and he checks them twice
  • Recommendation: Dictate text with speech-recognition software on your computer or talk to Siri on your iPhone to minimalize stress on hands and wrists.

9. Sleigh & chimney safety

  • Concerns: Wounds from constantly bumping into the sleigh, roof-tops and chimneys
  • Recommendation: Chronic wounds can get worse when coupled with diabetes, circulatory problems and immobilization brought on by sitting in a sleigh for long periods. Infection control and hyperbaric oxygen therapy are some of the things that help with healing. For more information about wound care therapy, call Saint Francis-Bartlett Rehab & Sports Medicine at (901) 382-6280.

10. Psychological problems

  • Manifestation: Unreasonably jolly all the time
  • Indication: “North Polar Disorder”
  • Recommendation: Immediate evaluation by a mental health professional

Final tip for Santa

Many of Santa’s problems stem from his weight, and he’s certainly not the only one. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, it’s estimated that the average person gains between one and two pounds. Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett’s affiliated general practitioners, cardiologists, bariatric surgeons, vascular surgeons, internists and orthopedic surgeons are available to discuss Santa’s health and lifestyle changes for 2017. For a free physician referral, call (901) 820-7022.

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