A man with a tummy ache.

Thanksgiving can be one of the highlights of the year. The combination of good food, family, and time friends is what lasting memories are made of. However, sometimes a few hours, or even a few days after Thanksgiving we don’t feel well. Here are some of the most common Thanksgiving Illnesses and injuries to be aware of and how to avoid them.

Foodborne Illnesses

These are unfortunately the most likely post-Thanksgiving illnesses. Foodborne illnesses often occur because of improper food handling, cooking, or storage.

What are the symptoms of a foodborne illness?

Here’s what to watch for:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain

What causes foodborne illnesses?

Common pathogens include Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter.

How Do You Treat foodborne illnesses?

Treating foodborne illnesses typically involves addressing the symptoms and, in some cases, seeking medical attention. The specific treatment can vary depending on the type of foodborne illness and its severity. Here are some general solutions to treat foodborne illnesses:

  1. Hydration: Staying hydrated is crucial, especially if you are experiencing diarrhea and vomiting. Drink clear fluids like water, oral rehydration solutions, clear broths, or electrolyte drinks to replace lost fluids and electrolytes.
  2. Rest: Get plenty of rest to help your body recover. Avoid strenuous activities while you are ill. (This could mean missing out on your black Friday in person shopping!)
  3. Medications: Over-the-counter medications may help alleviate some symptoms. For example, antidiarrheal medications like loperamide (Imodium) can be used to control diarrhea, and antiemetic medications can help reduce nausea and vomiting.

When Should You See a Doctor For Foodborne Illnesses?

It’s important to be aware that in some cases, foodborne illnesses can be severe and require medical treatment. Check with a healthcare provider if you experience any of the following:

  • High fever (above 101.5°F or 38.6°C)
  • Blood in your stool or severe dehydration
  • Symptoms lasting more than a few days
  • Persistent vomiting that prevents you from keeping down liquids
  • Signs of neurological symptoms (e.g., confusion, slurred speech, seizures)

How Can You Prevent Foodborne Illnesses at Thanksgiving?

Reduce your risk of getting sick from contaminated food by following proper food safety practices. This includes washing your hands and cooking utensils and food thoroughly, keeping perishable foods at safe temperatures, and avoiding cross-contamination.

Remember that the best approach to foodborne illnesses is to take steps to avoid them in the first place! You can do this through safe food handling and preparation practices.

A family sits around a table for Thanksgiving dinner.

Other Thanksgiving Health Issues to be Aware of

Here are a few other conditions that should be on your radar during and post Thanksgiving.

Common Cold and Flu

With large gatherings and the onset of winter, the risk of cold and flu transmission is higher during the holiday season. Sneezing, coughing, and close contact with infected individuals can lead to respiratory illnesses.

Stomach Upset

Overindulging in rich, fatty, and sugary foods can lead to stomach discomfort, heartburn, and indigestion. (This is why you might want to pass on that extra slice of pumpkin pie!)

Food Allergies

With many dishes on the table, it’s important to be aware of food allergies and sensitivities. Allergic reactions can range from mild skin rashes to severe anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening.

Alcohol-Related Issues

Thanksgiving often involves alcohol consumption, and excessive drinking can lead to alcohol-related illnesses. These may include hangovers, alcohol poisoning, or alcohol-induced accidents.

Emotional Stress

Yes, this is a thing! Thanksgiving can be emotionally challenging for some individuals, leading to post-holiday stress and mental health issues. Coping with family dynamics or feeling overwhelmed by holiday expectations can contribute to stress and anxiety.

Travel-Related Illnesses

For those traveling during Thanksgiving, long journeys can lead to jet lag, motion sickness, and exposure to germs in crowded transportation hubs.


Cooking-related injuries, such as burns, cuts, or falls, can occur when preparing Thanksgiving meals. Instead of waiting for the turkey to be done, unfortunate cooks can be stuck in an urgent care waiting room.

Prevention Measures To Consider

To prevent these post-Thanksgiving illnesses, it’s important to prioritize safe food handling, practice good hygiene and drink alcohol in moderation.

Final Thoughts

With a little extra preparation and caution, most Thanksgiving related illnesses and injuries are totally preventable. If you have a health concern don’t hesitate in reaching out to your healthcare provider for help!

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