There are two categories to cold weather-related injuries. 1) no freezing of body tissue (trench foot and chilblains), and 2) freezing of body tissues (frostbite). Chilblains in general, will not need medical attention (unless there is infection). Trench foot and frostbite, however, require medical attention.
Symptoms of frostbite include pain, burning, numbness, and eventually a complete loss of sensation in the affected body part. The young, elderly, and patients with certain medical conditions (diabetes, hypothyroidism, circulatory problems, and psychiatric illnesses), are more susceptible to cold weather-related injuries. People who abuse alcohol and illicit drug user are also at risk for cold weather-related injuries.Read more: Frostbite (Frostnip) Article
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Related Disease Conditions
Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The two types of diabetes are referred to as type 1 (insulin dependent) and type 2 (non-insulin dependent). Symptoms of diabetes include increased urine output, thirst, hunger, and fatigue. Treatment of diabetes depends on the type.
Itch (Itching or Pruritus)
Itching can be a common problem. Itches can be localized or generalized. There are many causes of itching to include: infection (jock itch, vaginal itch), disease (hyperthyroidism, liver or kidney), reactions to drugs, and skin infestations (pubic or body lice). Treatment for itching varies depending on the cause of the itch.
Hyperthyroidism is an excess of thyroid hormone due to an overactive thyroid gland. Symptoms can include increased heart rate, weight loss, heart palpitations, frequent bowel movements, depression, fatigue, fine or brittle hair, sleep problems, thinning skin, and irregular vaginal bleeding. Graves' disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Many other health problems or taking excess thyroid hormone medication can cause an overactive thyroid gland. Treatment for the condition is with medication, radioactive iodine, thyroid surgery (rarely), or reducing the dose of thyroid hormone. No diet has been shown to treat hyperthyroidism or its symptoms and signs.
Dehydration is the excessive loss of body water. There are a number of causes of dehydration including heat exposure, prolonged vigorous exercise, and some diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms of dehydration include headache, lightheadedness, constipation, and bad breath. Treatment for dehydration is to replace lost fluids and electrolytes.
Raynaud's phenomenon is characterized by a pale-blue-red sequence of color changes of the digits, most commonly after exposure to cold. Occurring as a result of spasm of blood vessels, the cause is unknown. Symptoms of Raynaud's phenomenon depend on the severity, frequency, and duration of the blood vessel spasm. Treatments include protection of the digits, medications, and avoiding emotional stresses, smoking, cold temperature, and tools that vibrate the hands.
Hypothyroidism is any state in which thyroid hormone production is below normal. Normally, the rate of thyroid hormone production is controlled by the brain by the pituitary gland. Hypothyroidism is a very common condition and the symptoms of hypothyroidism are often subtle, but may include, constipation, memory loss, hair loss, and depression. There are a variety of causes of hypothyroidism, and treatment depends on the cause.
Cuts, Scrapes (Abrasions), and Puncture Wounds
Cuts, scrapes, and puncture wounds are common, and most people will experience one of these in their lifetime. Evaluating the injury, and thoroughly cleaning the injury is important. Some injuries should be evaluated by a doctor, and a tetanus shot may be necessary. Treatment will depend upon the severity of the injury.
Gangrene may result when blood flow to a tissue is lost or not adequate to keep the tissue alive. There are two types of gangrene: wet and dry. All cases of wet gangrene are infected by bacteria. Most cases of dry gangrene are not infected. If wet gangrene goes untreated, the patient may die of sepsis within hours or days. Dry gangrene usually doesn't cause the patient to die. Symptoms of dry gangrene include numbness, discoloration, and mummification of the affected tissue. Wet gangrene symptoms include swelling, pain, pus, bad smell, and black appearance of the affected tissue. Treatment depends upon the type of gangrene and how much tissue is compromised by the gangrene.
A bruise, or contusion, is caused when blood vessels are damaged or broken as the result of a blow to the skin. The raised area of a bump or bruise results from blood leaking from these injured blood vessels into the tissues as well as from the body's response to the injury. Treatments include applying an ice pack and pressure to the area by hand.
Hyothermia or extreme exposure to cold can be classified as either accidental hypothermia (unintentional cold exposure) and intentional hypothermia (generally induced for a medical procedure). Hypothermia is caused by exposure to extremely cold temperatures. Risk factors for hypothermia include cold exposure and/or certain medical conditions. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering; increased heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure; apathy, confusion, slurred speech, no reflexes, and dilated pupils. Medical attention is generally necessary to treat hypothermia.
Tetanus is an often-fatal disease caused by nerve toxins produced by the common bacteria Clostridium tetani. In a 7-day period after infection, a person experiences muscle spasms, restlessness, headache, irritability, then lockjaw, and the lungs stop functioning. Tetanus is treatable with antibiotics and drainage. Sedation is often give to stop muscle spasms.
Children's health is focused on the well-being of children from conception through adolescence. There are many aspects of children's health, including growth and development, illnesses, injuries, behavior, mental illness, family health, and community health.
Growth Plate Fractures and Injuries
Growth plate fractures and injuries occur in the area growing tissue near the end of the long bones of children and teens. Both boys and girls are susceptible to growth plate fracture and injury. Common causes include: a fall while playing sports or playing on furniture or playground equipment, overuse injury from sports, injuries from competitive sports, child abuse, frostbite, and juvenile arthritis. Growth plate fracture and injury are classified into five categories according to the Salter-Harris Classification.
First aid is a complicated subject and it is situation-specific. First aid is defined as the help and medical assistance someone a sick or injured person. Preparedness is key to first aid, like having basic medical emergency kits in your home, car, boat, or RV. Many minor injuries may require first aid, including cuts, puncture wounds, sprains, strains, and nosebleeds. Examples of more critical first aid emergencies include heart attacks, strokes, seizures, and heat stroke
Smoking During Pregnancy
Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth, low birth weight or premature birth, and more. Secondhand smoke also increases your baby's risk of developing: lung cancer, heart diseases, emphysema, asthma, allergies, and SIDS.
Treatment & Diagnosis
Prevention & Wellness
- Health Tip: Frostbite
- Polar Vortex Brings Frostbite Danger: Protect Yourself
- Layer Up During the Polar Vortex
- FDA Throws Cold Water on Whole Body Cryotherapy
- Health Tip: Stay Safe During Winter Sports
- How to Stay on Your Feet During Slippery Winter Conditions
- Taking the Bite Out of Frostbite
- Debunking Winter Weather Myths
- Protecting Ankles, Feet From Winter's Assaults
- Health Tip: Signs of Frostbite? Head Indoors
- Stay Safe, Play Safe in a Winter Wonderland
- Polar Vortex Tightens Grip on U.S.
- Beware Whole Body Cryotherapy Claims, FDA Warns
- Climate Change Won't Lower Number of Winter Deaths, Study Claims
- Cold Weather a Bigger Killer Than Heat, Study Finds
- When to Ice, When to Heat
- How to Stay Safe When Riding Out a Blizzard
- Keeping Safe in a Big Freeze
- Keeping Safe in a Big Freeze
- Dealing With Cold Weather Injuries
- Protect Yourself in Icy Temperatures, Heavy Snow
- Extreme Weather Kills 2,000 in U.S. Each Year: CDC
- Health Tip: Developing Frostbite
- Another Arctic Blast Has Much of U.S. in Its Grip
- Third Deep Freeze Sweeps Across Country
- Dealing With The Deep Freeze
- The Cold, Hard Truth About Surviving Bitter Winter Weather