It’s cold outside!

Dr. Robert Bobert
Dr. Robert Bobert


The front of the Madison Memorial Hospital in the winter, snow on the ground

Some people hate the cold, some people love the cold, and some people just deal with the cold. Everyone has their opinions about the cold but maybe the people who hate the cold have the right idea.

According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, there were 1,647 deaths from 1990-2006 due to cardiac-related incidents in the snow. The combination of cold temperatures and physical exertion increase the workload on the heart so, when you’re doing things like shoveling your driveway, you are increasing your risk of a heart attack.

The cold doesn’t just affect your heart. Here’s a list of other ways the cold affects your health:

  • Frostbite– Frostbite is when ice crystals form inside body cells killing them in the process. Deep frostbite can lead to the loss of extremities. If you know you’re going outside for a while make sure you bundle up. If you’re out in the cold and feel like you’re getting frostbite move to the warmth as soon as possible.
  • Hypothermia– Hypothermia is the condition of having an abnormally low body temperature. A normal body temperature is 98.6. When hypothermia occurs the body temperature has fallen below 95. You’ll know you have mild hypothermia when you are shivering, dizzy, hungry, breathing fast, feeling nauseous, have slight confusion, fatigue, increased heart rate and lack of coordination. If you feel hypothermia coming on go indoors and if you need to be outside put more layers on.
  • Weakened immune system– When your body is cold there is a shortage of blood supply to the extremities. This is done to preserve body heat in the bodies core and head. The reduction of blood flow causes a reduction in white blood cells, the disease-fighting cells. Long story short, when its cold your body can’t fight diseases as well as it could when its warm. Sicknesses you’re likely to get during cold months are the flu, colds, sore throat, and norovirus (the winter vomiting bug).
  • Depression/Seasonal affective disorder– Seasonal affective disorder is a depression that begins in the fall and continues throughout the winter months. During the winter months, days are shorter, giving us less sunlight. This can disturb your biological clock, cause your bodies serotonin levels to drop and disrupt the bodies levels of melatonin, all causing you to feel depressed.

While the cold months are among us make sure you are taking precaution, especially when it comes to being outside. Dress warm, don’t stay outdoors longer than needed and do whatever else it takes to stay warm and healthy!

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