Freezing temprature
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What Do Freezing Temperatures Do to Your Body?

Freezing temprature

Introduction

What Do Freezing Temperatures Do to Your Body? Understanding the Health Risks of Extreme Cold. During periods of extreme cold, it is crucial to understand how to minimize the risk of frostbite, hypothermia, and complications related to managing chronic diseases.Understanding the health risks of extreme cold involves delving into what freezing temperatures can do to your body.

As the temperature drops, certain health and wellness issues become more prevalent. However, with proper preparation, you can navigate through the cold weather safely.

Depending on your location, the lowest temperatures are typically experienced in December, January, or February. 

How to be aware of yourself

To determine when the coldest day of the year is expected in your area, refer to the map provided by NOAA Climate.gov. Despite the overall warming trend in America’s temperatures, there is still a possibility of unexpected and record-breaking cold spells, as evidenced by the current windchill or dangerous cold advisories affecting nearly 150 million Americans, according to the Associated Press.

Interestingly, a report from the U.S. Climate Program Office reveals that these extreme winter weather events are becoming more frequent due to climate change, despite the seeming contradiction.

So, how can you ensure the safety of yourself and your family during these frigid temperatures? This comprehensive guide on surviving extreme cold serves as an excellent starting point.

How Freezing Temperatures Impact Human Biology and Well-being

Exploring the impacts of freezing temperatures on your body is crucial for comprehending the health risks associated with extreme cold.

The CDC notes “extreme cold” varies based on local weather patterns. Dr. Ford highlights lung and skin changes in sudden temperature shifts. Cold air can sting lungs due to moisture contact, akin to freezing warm water rapidly.

What to do?

Pay attention to windchill rather than thermometer temperature, as it changes rapidly. Windchill combines air temperature and wind speed, often called “feels-like” temperature. According to the U.S. National Weather Service, exposed skin can freeze in 30 minutes at 0°F with a wind speed of 15 mph, resulting in a windchill of -19°F. In cold temperatures, the body prioritizes blood circulation to the core, reducing flow to extremities. Cold’s impact is mainly on the skin due to its surface location. Blood flow reduction increases with distance from the heart, making fingers and toes vulnerable.At what temp is frostbite a concern?

Frostbite becomes a concern when the air temperature, along with wind chill, drops to -15°C (5°F) or lower. It’s crucial to remember that frostbite can occur even at higher temperatures if there’s prolonged exposure, particularly in windy conditions or if the skin is damp. Moreover, individual factors like clothing, physical activity, and health status play a significant role in determining the risk of frostbite. Therefore, it’s essential to remain cautious and take preventive measures whenever temperatures fall below freezing, regardless of whether it’s extremely cold or not.

How Do You KnowWhen are you most at risk for hypothermia?

Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can generate it, leading to a dangerous drop in body temperature below 95 degrees F, as stated by the Mayo Clinic. This decrease in temperature hinders the normal functioning of the heart, nervous system, and other organs.

 

Dr. Glatter emphasizes that hypothermia is a critical medical situation where the heart, brain, and internal organs struggle to operate as the body temperature decreases. Without prompt resuscitation and swift rewarming, survival becomes unlikely. Initial signs of hypothermia include shivering, followed by decreased breathing and heart rate, confusion, and drowsiness in the later stages.

Cause

By examining “What Do Freezing Temperatures Do to Your Body?” we gain insights into the potential health hazards posed by extreme cold.Dr. Uren and Glatter highlight the cognitive impairment caused by hypothermia, affecting the ability to recognize the condition’s severity. This impairment may lead to symptoms resembling intoxication, such as stumbling and incoherent speech, similar to a stroke. Monitoring body temperature can provide valuable information about the underlying cause of these symptoms.

 

An increased risk of hypothermia occurs when sweating or wet, especially in snowy conditions. To prevent this, it is recommended to stay dry by wearing a synthetic base layer to absorb moisture, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Layering up and removing extra clothing as needed can help regulate body temperature during outdoor activities in cold weather.

 Uren emphasizes the importance of protecting yourself from the elements and sweat to prevent hypothermia. Water, in any form, is the biggest threat. Even if you aim to stay dry, wearing inappropriate clothing in extremely cold temperatures can still increase your risk of hypothermia.

How do you stay warm in extreme cold outside?

How to protect yourself.?

 Additionally, wearing a hat and gloves or mittens is crucial. While the head doesn’t lose more heat than other body parts, covering it helps protect the large surface area of exposed skin. Consider wearing thin gloves underneath outer gloves with hand warmers in between for added protection.

Lastly, don’t overlook the skin around your eyes, which is susceptible to frostbite. Wear ski goggles to shield against wind and retain heat when exposed to extreme cold temperatures.

 Managing extreme cold weather requires careful planning and preparation.

What Do Freezing Temperatures Do to Your Body? Understanding the Health Risks of Extreme Cold

Asthma

Inhaling extremely cold air can cause the airways to tighten and make it difficult to breathe, especially for those with asthma. Harvard Health Publishing states that individuals with asthma may experience shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing in these conditions. If you have a rescue inhaler, it can provide relief. However, if you are having difficulty breathing, it is important to seek immediate medical attention at the nearest emergency department, advises Uren.

Diabetes: Cold weather can affect blood circulation and lead to erratic blood sugar levels, particularly in individuals with diabetes, especially type 1 diabetes. However, it can also occur in type 2 diabetes, according to Ford. If you feel dizzy or weak after being outside in the cold, experts recommend checking your blood sugar levels.Additionally, if you use insulin and store it in your car, bring it inside to prevent it from freezing, as advised by the CDC.

 

If you have diabetic neuropathy, which is nerve damage, it’s important to be aware that you may not be able to feel when your feet are getting too cold, putting you at risk for frostbite, warns the University of Rochester Medical Center.

 

Arthritis: Some individuals may experience increased joint pain in very cold weather, although there is no known medical basis for this phenomenon, according to Uren. If you need to shovel snow, Ford suggests taking anti-inflammatory drugs beforehand and breaking the task into shorter shifts of 10 minutes. Once you have warmed up indoors and regained feeling in your hands, it is safe to go back outside. If you know that cold weather triggers your joint pain, it is advisable to discuss an action plan with your doctor.

 

Autoimmune disease: Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition that affects blood flow and causes extreme changes in the fingers and toes, even in mild cold temperatures.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) requires careful attention to individual symptoms and needs. Each person’s experience with COPD is unique, so listening to your body’s signals is crucial. While some individuals find relief by wrapping a scarf around their mouth and nose to breathe warm air in colder temperatures, this may not work for everyone. If your COPD is not well-managed, it’s important to plan and stay indoors. Collaborate with your loved ones to ensure you have all the necessary support and resources.

 

Heart disease; can be exacerbated by cold temperatures, as they can strain the cardiovascular system and increase the workload on the heart. Northwestern Medicine warns that this can elevate the risk of heart attacks. If you have heart disease, it’s essential to be cautious when engaging in strenuous activities. For instance, instead of shoveling snow, consider hiring someone to do it for you. Uren emphasizes that extremely cold weather combined with heavy snow can strain anyone’s health.

 inflammatory bowel disease

The impact of cold weather on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is difficult to predict. Ford explains that most of the inflammation occurs in the intestines, which are less susceptible to the immediate effects of cold weather. While prolonged exposure to cold temperatures could potentially worsen the condition, it is unlikely to occur from a brief brisk walk outside.

 

 COVID

Individuals with long-term COVID-19 should exercise extra caution in cold temperatures and snowy conditions. Glatter highlights that lung function and capacity may be compromised for some time after a COVID-19 infection, increasing the risk of respiratory infections and diseases.

seasonal affective disorder,

 bipolar disorder, or depression may face challenges when having to stay indoors for extended periods. Dr. Dago advises consistent sleep, exercise, and sunlight exposure, suggesting opening curtains or sitting near windows indoors. It is important to apply sunscreen even when indoors and choose an appropriate SPF based on the sun’s intensity.

Mental health condition

 

For individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS), additional precautions may be necessary to maintain mobility during cold weather compared to warmer weather. The cold can worsen pain or weakness, and the greatest risk is the loss of balance and slips and falls on icy surfaces, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. It is important to exercise caution and be mindful of these risks.

Skin conditions 

 

Individuals with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis may experience worsened symptoms in cold and dry winter weather, as noted by the Cleveland Clinic and the National Psoriasis Foundation. The effects may not be immediate upon exposure to the cold but should subside once in a warm environment. To prevent worsening of symptoms, it is recommended to keep the skin moisturized while indoors. 

How do humans survive the extreme cold?

Living in an area with a history of frigid temperatures can affect how your body responds to the weather compared to someone from a warmer region. Adaptation plays a significant role in this, as Ford explains. The human body is resilient and equipped with defense mechanisms.Wearing layers, taking breaks indoors, and being cautious on icy surfaces ensure safe winter navigation, preventing bad outcomes.

 

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