Cold Weather Tips: Doctor Most Helps You Keep Warm Today and All Winter Long – WGN Radio

Posted by on Jan 19th, 2016 and filed under Pharmaceutical News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Cold Weather Tips: Doctor Most Helps You Keep Warm Today and All Winter Long – WGN Radio

Doctor Kevin Most

Doctor Kevin Most

Well, winter is finally here.   Each year we try to remind ourselves that weather can really cause damage to our body, especially cold weather. With wind chills hitting 25 below zero it is important to highlight frostbite from both a prevention view as well as treatment. The goal is obviously to prevent any cold related problems. Some of the prevention is obvious but others need to be highlighted yearly.

Prevention tips – Function over Fashion

1.  The goal is to protect our most vulnerable areas on our body for frostbite.  Our circulating blood is one of our key warming mechanisms so areas where blood flow can be compromised must be protected.  The main concerns are fingers, toes, nose, and ears.

2.  Wearing a hat that covers the ears is key, if you are caught without a hat, cup your ears with your hands on a regular basis, every few minutes. Facemask or scarf will help you protect your facial skin and nose. It also allows for the air to be warmed before reaching your bronchial tubes. This is important for asthmatics as extreme cold can trigger spasm and asthma attacks.

3. Wear mittens in place of gloves. Mittens allow for the fingers to stay warmer. Allows you to move fingers more easily.  Allows you to make a fist which also keeps the fingers warm. Gloves rely on the insulation to keep the hands warm and most are not designed or built for that function. Using disposable chemical hand  and feet warmers is great for anyone who will be out for an extend period of time. You can get these on line  for a very reasonable price, around fifty cents each and they can last many hours.

4. People who work outside should also make sure the base clothing layer is not made from cotton. Activity may cause sweating and cotton holds that moisture and will actually make you colder as that is what sweating is supposed to do, cool the body. So what we want is a base of polyester or another moisture wicking material. These move the moisture away from the skin and allow for body heat to be maintained.

5. We talk about wearing layers, the reason for this is, air between the layers allows for heat to be maintained. Wearing a good wool sweater also keeps heat in.

6. Wear a coat that is windproof and preferably water proof as well.

Symptoms-  Initially the sensation will be cold skin and a tingling sensation. This is followed by the area going numb. The skin will initially be red but that changes and the skin will become hard and waxy looking. You may find that you can’t use the area normally, fingers and toes may be difficult to coordinate. The skin may  blister after rewarming and may be very painful.

Treatment- Most of the treatment is actually done in the home not in emergency rooms so knowing how to treat this is important. Rewarming can be painful so taking advil before rewarming may be helpful.

  1. If you think you have experienced frostbite, one important thing to know is that rubbing the area is one of the worst things you can do. Frostbite skin actually has frozen water in the cells so any rubbing actually causes damage to cells, nerves and blood vessels. Do not rub your hands together and this is one thing we do all the time when coming in from cold, if there is a chance of frostbite do not do this.
  2. Do not walk on frostbitten toes unless absolutely needed. Damage can be done while walking.
  3. Warming the hands by running them under warm water is good, however make sure someone checks the temp of the water. The water should be warm but not hot as hot water will do damage to the skin. The reason to have someone else test the temperature of the water is you have decreased or no sensation in that area so you are unable to tell the temp.
  4. Do not use a fireplace to or oven to warm the hands as again you can do more damage than good as you may burn the skin.
  5. If the skin is blistered getting medical treatment is needed, the skin may need to be removed in the blistered area.
  6. A very important point is making sure you don’t expose the area to possible re exposure. Frostbite on top of an earlier frostbite is devastating.

Also in the news this week.

Zika Virus is in the news as well.  This is a virus that we have not seen in the US but it is getting closer as they now have cases in Mexico.  For the most part the virus has not garnered much attention, however there has been a huge increase in the number of babies with microcephaly in Brazil and they have found the virus in the brain of the fetuses.

 The CDC is planning on putting out a travel advisory as there appears to be linked to microcephaly in newborns born to females who were infected during the pregnancy. There have been a couple of cases in the US from individuals who traveled to an endemic area. The CDC puts out these advisories as information to travelers.

 This was a very obscure virus, that caused  mild illness, fever, headache, rash, muscle aches, for the most part it is an inconvenience, so it really did not get much attention. Now the number of infections is rising, the geography of the illness is increasing.

 In Brazil with  this increase, they have noted that females infected earlier in the pregnancy may have a baby with microcephaly. This is  a condition where the childs skull and brain do not fully develop and results in severe mental development issues. It appears that this virus is able to infect the fetus which is very rare. Most viruses affect the mother but are unable to pass thru the placenta to the fetus. It appears the Zika virus is able to and it infects the brain of the fetus. It does not appear that human to human transmission does not occur.

The virus has been reported in Latin America, Mexico, Caribbean and also in Puerto Rico. The virus is carried by mosquitos. The mosquito transmits the virus when biting. The bad thing is there is no quick test for this, no vaccine and no treatment. This is a virus that will be watched very closely over the next few months. The problem is that the mosquito’s that carry the virus are found here. So the CDC is closely monitoring the spread of the disease and concern that the virus may work into the southern states.  One area being studied is how we can develop a test identifying the disease quickly. Remember for most patients this is an inconvenience, except pregnant women.

 Work is just starting on the  potential for a vaccine and if any of the anti viral medications we have will work against this disease.

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