Even though spring is just a bit more than a month away, there is still time for frigid winter weather to sneak up and cause major problems.
According to ED physician Paul J. Karagiannis, MD, hypothermia and frostbite are common issues that can affect anyone of any age if precautions aren’t taken.
What is hypothermia?
Hypothermia is abnormally low body temperature caused by prolonged exposure to very cold temperatures, said Dr. Karagiannis. When exposed to cold temperatures, the body begins to lose heat faster than it’s produced. Hypothermia can occur at temperatures above freezing if the body is exposed to rain, sweat, or submersion in water.
Symptoms of hypothermia:
- Exhaustion, feeling very tired
- Fumbling hands
- Memory loss
- Slurred speech
- Drowsiness, or having very low energy
- Bright red, cold skin
What is frostbite?
Frostbite can result in an injury caused by freezing and can lead to a loss of feeling and color in the areas it affects — usually extremities such as the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, and toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation.
Symptoms of frostbite:
- Redness or pain on exposed skin
- A white or grayish-yellow skin area
- Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
If you experience any of these symptoms, get to the nearest Emergency Department immediately.