Doctor Advises: Keep Warm and on Your Feet as Cold, Ice Continue

While we’re not experiencing Chicago-style weather, it’s still plenty cold enough to be threatening to people’s health and needs to be taken seriously.

Dr. Steven Wishner, an internal medicine specialist at NYU-Langone/Huntington Medical Group  in Huntington Station said Thursday that people need to minimize their time outdoors in the cold weather, which could drop again as low as -5 degrees Thursday night and Friday.

“Unless you have to work outdoors, stay inside,” he said. “If you have to work outdoors, that’s different, in which case, seek a warm shelter throughout the day, warm up before going back out. If you have to go outside, wear a face mask. and below zero, wear goggles.”

When people come back inside, he said, they should “drink warm liquids. if you come back in, don’t put your hands in warm water to warm up. When you put your hands in warm water, the blood vessels constrict, which is the opposite of f what you want. Warm them in warm, dry things,  not under warm water. And don’t drink alcohol.”

People who go outside should watch for main threats:

More commonly, frostbite and also hypothermia.

Frostbit occurs to skin and most commonly ears, face, hands or feet if exposed long enough. The wind makes it worse, and frostbite varies in severity.

Some indications of frostbite are skin would be red–red skin is one of first sings that you see. Frostnip causes redness and some numbness. Then skin hardens and turns pale. At that point, it’s  reasonable to just go into a warm place. You would normally feel tingling or burning as it returns to normal. Second, skin would can start to turn blue or unusually white like a piece of paper or form blisters. In that case, go to a hospital.  People they go out to walk their dog  and people don’t realize how quickly it can happen.

Hypothermia is the process of the body losing heat faster than it can be replaced. The body temperature is 98.6  on average, but if it drops below 95 becomes very dangerous.

The first sign is a shiver, which is a warning. The problem after that is after it progresses and  you can become confused. with slurred speech, a little confused, and seem almost drunk. The skin will turn bright red. That is a medical emergency.”

Children and older people are particularly vulnerable to the cold, Wishner said. And the wind, such as we’ve experienced this week, is particularly a hazard. “When it’s windy, you can get dehydrated. When you’re cold, you’re trying to profuse more blood and more prone to get dehydrated.”

In addition to the cold, this week’s weather has left patches of black ice. “We just saw a slip and fall, where someone got out of a car in a driveway, where there was a very thin layer of ice,” Wishner said. “It can be a very bad fall, where you don’t expect it and you don’t know where you’re going to land.”

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