It’s Mardi Gras Season! Have fun but be careful!
By Arturo Gastanaduy, MD.
Click aqui para español- >¡En temporada de Mardi Gras, diviértase con cuidado!
Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday in French, is the last day of Carnival. The season is celebrated with King Cakes, gold, purple and green decorations, costumes, masks, bead necklaces, parades, and parties with lots of delicious foods and drinks.
New Orleans has a long tradition of Mardi Gras celebration and it is one of the most famous in the world. The first parade was in 1837, the first float appeared in 1857 and beads in 1900. Mardi Gras season is a lot of fun, but there are some common health problems associated with it.
Trauma: Bruises, cuts, sprains, concussions, dislocations, and even fractures caused by trips, falls, motor vehicle accidents, projectiles, etc. The most common ones are smashed fingers, sprained ankles, wrist fractures, and head or face contusions caused by projectile bead bags. Elbow subluxation and eye scratches also occur. Tendinitis and feet friction blisters are frequent in dancers and marching band members. Watch your footing, be aware of the curbs, fences, potholes, projectiles, moving vehicles, etc. Be sure that children’s ladders are well designed and placed in a safe spot at least 6 feet inside the curb. Wear comfortable previously used shoes with double socks (thinner inside). Pay attention to your children and minimize cell phone use.
Cold injuries, sunburns and dehydration may occur, especially in children. Plenty of water, sunscreen and layered clothing to adjust to weather changes are recommended.
Every pediatrician in New Orleans has had to remove beads from ears and noses of children. The procedure could be easy or traumatic, sometimes requiring an ear nose and throat consultant. Infants and small children have a high risk of choking with a bead or small toy like a king cake doll. Prevent little children playing with small objects.
Parties, outside cooking, previously prepared meals, multiple food handlers and lack of bathrooms and hand-washing facilities, provide opportunities for the food to become contaminated. Food poisoning and stomach infections may occur. Sometimes outbreaks develop from a common food source. Keep food refrigerated, use disposable utensils, minimize the number of food handlers, use hand sanitizer and wash hands with water and soap whenever possible.
Drugs, alcohol, sex:
These are potential problems for adolescents. Parties with lack of supervision provide the opportunity to experiment and for risk-taking behaviors. Remember that small children can get intoxicated by partially filled cups they find lying around. Watch and counsel your children, be sure you know where they are and with whom as well as who is supervising them.