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The Athletic Club

of Overland Park
21 Dec 2016

Staying Healthy in Cold Weather

Hello friends, and welcome! Christmas is almost here, and I for one, am very excited! This is definitely my favorite time of the year! Even though the season is abundant with merriment and celebrations, there is one thing we are constantly reminded of….this cold and inclement weather. Staying warm is a tough thing to do, especially when there is ice and snow, and the temperatures are below zero. This kind of weather makes us want to stay inside and avoid it altogether, however for most of us, this is a difficult thing to accomplish! Only in an ideal world, right? Haha!

Today’s blog topic seems fitting, as the Winter season has really only just begun. I thought it would be helpful to discuss the signs and symptoms of hypothermia so you know how to prevent it!

Shivering is probably the first, and most common sign of hypothermia. This is your bodies’ way of trying to stay warm and preserve itself from brisk conditions. Most of our heat loss comes from ‘radiated heat’ or heat that escapes from unprotected areas of the body. ‘Direct contact’ is another major cause for heat loss, particularly water related contact, for example wet clothing. Our bodies lose heat from cold water more rapidly than cold air.

The next phase you would progress to would be ‘mild’ hypothermia. There are many clear indications that you can look for.

These signs include:
Dizziness
Fatigue
Difficulty speaking
Nausea
Hunger
Confusion
Loss of coordination

You can also expect your heart rate and your breathing to be noticeably elevated.

The final phase of hypothermia would be ‘severe’. As your body temperature continues to diminish, you will again notice very clear indications that something is very very wrong. At this point, the shivering will dissipate altogether. Your speech will become slurred and you may begin mumbling. You also may try to do things that would normally not make sense, like removing your clothing. It is also likely that you will have little concern for your own well being. These would be prime examples of confusion and poor decision making. Finally, your breathing will have significantly worsened at this point and your pulse will be delayed.

It is said that because the signs are so gradual, that most people are not aware they are experiencing hypothermia. These are all great things to keep in mind, (especially if you are more mature in your years) so you can catch it early on. It can happen very easily! Cold temperatures outside are not always the cause of hypothermia. An older person could potentially experience a ‘mild’ version of this from being indoors, and in temperatures that healthier, younger people would tolerate just fine. (Annual thermostat checkups would be recommended to make sure there is no risk!)

Mental illness, age, substance abuse, and certain medical conditions/medications are also common factors that need to be considered when preparing and dressing for cold weather. These things especially can put you at risk for hypothermia, as they can make it difficult for your body to control it’s temperature.

If you do happen to come into contact with someone who you suspect might be experiencing ANY level of hypothermia, call 911 immediately! Do attempt to help move this person into a safe and warm environment. Move deliberately and slowly, remove any wet clothing if necessary. Wrap them in blankets and do what you can to help warm them until help arrives.

Thanks for joining me today! Check back later this week for more on staying warm this season! Don’t forget to stay positive and LOVE YOUR LIFE!

For more information, feel free to check out this site –
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothermia/basics/symptoms/con-20020453