The weather outside can be frightful in the winter months, and it can also be painful if you aren't prepared. In today's Wellness Report, Jill Urban talks to experts who have advice on what to do to stay protected during the cold months.
It’s only a few weeks into winter and between the snow storms and Polar Vortex, it's clear Mother Nature is giving us the cold shoulder.
The snow and crazy cold temperatures definitely took us by surprise and some hospitals and doctors found people unprepared for the extreme weather. So we asked some doctors what we should know so we are able to protect ourselves if it happens again.
First, in the ice cold temperatures, there were cases of hypothermia, which is when your temperature drops too low.
“Early symptoms of hypothermia are shivering. Can’t keep warm, you feel cold no matter how bundled up you are, and that’s a time you really should go inside,” said Dr. Tamara Kuitinen of Emergency Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital. “As it gets more severe, you sort of have mental slowness … at severe ends your heart slows down and you can die.”
Dr. Kuitinen says in temperatures like that, limit time outside and layer up. For those who work outdoors, make sure to take frequent breaks and drink hot fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol. In many cases, even limited exposure can be dangerous especially for those with heart conditions.
“Studies have shown that it’s a risk factor for cardiac disease so if you have some underlying cardiovascular issue and you are exposed to cold, there is an increased risk of sudden cardiac death or heart attack,” said Dr. Kuitinen.
And she says moving inside and out again while bundled up can be dangerous, because if you sweat while indoors you have a higher exposure risk when you get back outside because you will be wet, so unzip that jacket and take off some layers even if it’s just for a few minutes.
As for our skin, Dr. Debra Jaliman says arctic chill and snow can definitely lead to frost nip or frost bite.
“If you have numbness and tingling and it doesn’t go away, you want to seek medical attention because if you have frost bite you can have serious damage to your hands or to your feet or even to your face, so it’s important to see a doctor immediately,” said Dr. Jaliman.
And of course when there is ice and snow, there are a lot of slips and falls, or back injuries or cardiac issues from shoveling, so remember to be careful and take it easy. Because no matter how fast paced our world, when Mother Nature tries to slow us down, we had better listen.