Cold Can Affect You in Surprising Ways

Cold Can Affect You in Surprising Ways

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Ed Yeates ReportingDon't underestimate the effects of cold weather on your body! While we all know the obvious, the American College of Emergency Physicians tonight is warning us about things we may have never thought of before.

E.R. physicians, like Pioneer Valley Hospital's Dr. Peter Taillac, are reminding us how quickly hypothermia can come on, even inside a warm house. For example, some medications lower body temperature.

Peter Taillac, M.D., E.R., Pioneer Valley Hospital: "Particularly some hypertension medications, some sedatives, and some medications people take for mental conditions that can potentially lower your resistance to getting cold."

Alcohol gives a false sense of warmth as blood vessels dilate.

Dr. Taillac: "That dilation of the blood vessels allows you to lose heat through those enlarged blood vessels, and you actually lose heat and become hypothermic internally."

An older person who falls and can't get up can also get into trouble. With their body temperature at 98, the floor 65, the floor sucks out their heat.

Dr. Taillac: "Even though their house is relatively warm, they can develop hypothermia if they've been on that floor for a few hours."

Speaking of temperature, ACEP recommends we not let our house temperature drop below 65 in the daytime, or lower than 55 at night. Outside dress in layers.

The whole objective when you go outside in the cold is to hold inside as much heat as you can. You'd be surprised how much heat you lose out of the top of your head without a hat.

Dr. Taillac: "It actually is a big deal. You lose almost half your body heat through your head."

It's even worse for children.

Dr. Taillac: "Kids heads are bigger than adults in proportion to their body, so they lose even more of their heat."

Some runners should also avoid running outside, for now.

Dr. Taillac: "A lot of folks have sort of cold induced bronchial spasm, and the lungs will tighten up and they'll get some wheezing if they breathe through their mouth in cold weather."

And don't forget, frostbite thrives on prolonged exposure of fingers or toes to the cold.

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