Avoid holiday heart syndrome: what to know about binge drinking

How overdoing it can end in a trip to the hospital

With so many family gatherings, friendly get togethers and holiday work parties going on, it can be easy to overdo it a bit when it comes to drinking and eating. But while an extra cocktail might add a festive spirit, drinking more than usual can lead to experiencing holiday heart syndrome.

Holiday heart syndrome, according to WebMD, describes an array of symptoms caused by excessive drinking and eating.

“It’s an observation that people who drink a lot may wind up getting admitted to the hospital with palpitations or arrhythmia, often caused by atrial fibrillation,” Dr. Regina Druz explained to Health.

The symptoms may be a result of excessive alcohol use, dehydration and high stress. According to the American Psychological Association, 41% of U.S. adults say their stress increases during the holiday season.

Here are the common signs of holiday heart syndrome:

  • A lack of energy
  • Discomfort in your chest
  • Dizziness, or feeling like you might faint
  • Heart palpitations
  • Trouble breathing

To avoid holiday heart syndrome, consider the following tips:

  • Eat and drink in moderation
  • Keep moving and stay active
  • Work on self-calming techniques like breathing exercises and meditation
  • Be mindful about how medications interact with alcohol

While it’s hard to dodge a family toast, Dr. Druz said it’s important to know your limits.

“Yes, it’s a social glue and fun to use, but people should know that, as with any toxin, too much of a good thing can lead to effects that are highly undesirable and serious.”