Employee Assistance Program → Shady Grove Health Tips → Winter Health Tips
About 700 deaths occur from hypothermia in the U.S. each year. Hypothermia is characterized by a drop in body temperature to 95 degrees or less. It can be fatal if not treated quickly and properly. Symptoms include: forgetfulness, drowsiness, slurred speech, weak pulse, slow heartbeat, and shallow breathing. If symptoms appear, wrap the person in a warm blanket and take them directly to a hospital. To prevent hypothermia, it is important to layer with light, loose clothes which trap air yet, provide adequate ventilation.
The growing popularity of outdoor winter activities has increased the number of people at risk for frostbite. The parts of the body most affected by frostbite are the hands, feet, and exposed areas of the face. Frostbitten skin is white, stiff, and feels numb. To treat, warm the affected area gradually by wrapping the skin in blankets and seek medical attention immediately. Do not rub the areas; friction can damage the tissue. It is important to protect your neck, ears, and head where body heat is lost rapidly. Wear well-insulated gloves and wool hats/socks. Loss of moisture in your skin is due to the decreased humidity in the environment. Warm baths/showers are best; your skin will not be stripped of its natural oils.
Nearly 25 percent of injuries occur in people caught outside in storms. The majority of these injuries are related to ice/snow and occur in males over 40 years old. It is recommended you wear boots with ridges on the sole to prevent slipping on icy ground. The cold causes vasoconstriction of the heart vessels which can restrict much needed blood flow. Strenuous physical activity in cold weather such as shoveling snow should be limited. Prolonged exposure to cold weather should be avoided, especially if there is a history of high blood pressure, heart and lung disease.
More than 500 Americans die each year from carbon monoxide (CO) produced by heaters, furnaces, and fireplaces. CO is a colorless, odorless gas often released as a byproduct of fires and heaters. Symptoms include: headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, fatigue, and chest pain. It is important to use space heaters and furnaces only in well-ventilated areas. Have your furnace properly installed, maintained, and inspected. The CDC warns that indoor heating can dry out sinuses, making them more vulnerable to cold viruses that excel in low humidity.
Each year in the U.S., people suffer from one billion colds and the flu attacks an average of 10 percent of the population. The flu and a cold are both respiratory system infections passed to others through coughing, sneezing, and touching surfaces such as doorknobs or telephones. To avoid infection, take long baths because toxins pass through the skin. Also, increase the humidity in your house; viruses thrive in cool, dry environments. Wash your hands and avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth. Disinfect counters and other common household objects. To flush toxins out of your system, drink fruit/vegetable juices and water.
SIDS Increases during the winter months due to warmer rooms, more blankets, and closed windows. Make sure your baby isn't overheated.
CDC, American Heart Association, NOAA, Better Nutrition, NCHS, NIH, and Washington and Shady Grove Adventist Hospitals.
These Health Tips are for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.