By: Dr. Mary Gipson _ family practice with Medical West
We’ve had a few really severe cold spells already this year. And while it can bring some nice things - snow, maybe some snow days for the kids, and perhaps a comfy movie night with those you care about - it can also bring along some much scarier items, especially to those who may not be able to care for themselves.
Any time there is an extended period with extreme cold, always check in on the elderly. Whether it’s a relative a few towns over, or just the older couple down the street - make sure to stop by and inspect that they are doing things they need to combat the cold in a safe way. Older folks have a harder time picking up on temperature changes, but their bodies and their health are still at risk.
But we all are at risk when it comes to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures - which can lead to hypothermia.
Sometimes it helps to think of the body as if it were an engine. And with all the activities our body is engaged in, it can put off some serious heat. What happens with hypothermia is that your body is exposed to such extreme cold for such a long period of time, that it can no longer produce heat faster than it loses it.
When your body core gets down to 95º, you have made it to hypothermia. You’ll experience extreme shivering, cold & pale skin, speech will slur, numbness in your extremities, and you’ll experience a deficiency in brain activity (poor judgment, poor balance, etc.).