With the recent snow that blew through and the temperatures that are going to stay low over the next few days, many of us are still digging out our cars or way out of our driveways. Anyone can end up with frostbite or hypothermia, it’s important to know the risks of frostbite and hypothermia, especially for those that are at higher risk and are more susceptible to extremely cold weather. Some groups that be at higher risk include:

  • Very young children and our older senior population
  • Diabetic patients and other with conditions leading to poor circulation
  • Patients with heart conditions or those who take beta blockers

Don’t Ignore Shivering!

When you’re exposed to cold temperatures your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will use up your body’s energy, resulting in hypothermia. Some warning signs of hypothermia include:
  • Shivering
  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Trembling hands
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred Speech
  • Drowsiness

If you notice any of these signs, please seek immediate medical attention.

Frostbite is literally the freezing of body tissue; fingers, toes, ears and nose are the most vulnerable. Frostbite is caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, or shorter exposure to extremely cold temperatures. The warning signs of frostbite are:

  • Red or pale skin
  • Prickling
  • numbness

Frostbite and hypothermia can be prevented; here are some tips to help keep you safe:

  • Limit the time you’re outside in cold, wet or windy weather
  • Stay well hydrated
  • Dress in several layers of loose, warm clothing
  • Wear a hat or headband that fully covers your ears
  • Wear mittens rather than gloves
  • Wear socks and liners that fit well and wick moisture
  • Keep moving

 

 

 

Matthew Ajluni, DO, is the Medical Director of IHA’s After Hours, Urgent Care, and Occupational Medicine Program. He is a board-certified family medicine physician. Dr. Ajluni brings experience working with all aspects of family medicine from both inpatient and outpatient settings. As an IHA After Hours and IHA Urgent Care provider, he has clinical interests in emergency medicine, traveler’s health, occupational medicine, and preventive care. Outside of practice, he dedicates much of his time to teaching and volunteering opportunities throughout the health care community.