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Medical Monday Frostbite and Hypothermia

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:58 PM EST
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -Cold weather has certainly arrived. And with temperatures the coldest they’ve been so far this season, it’s important to avoid being outside for too long to prevent frostbite and hypothermia. It’s this weeks Medical Monday.

Winter is beautiful in the County, but it can also be dangerous. Cold temperatures can cause series health issues like frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite can happen quickly if exposed to the harsh winter temperatures, even for a short amount of time.

AR Gould Nurse Practitioner Melissa White says, “It can happen anywhere on the body, but mostly the nose, the cheeks, the ears, the chin, the fingers, the toes and sometimes it starts as redness or pain but can turn into a discoloration, either grey or yellow and sometimes you can have a numbness in those areas. "

White says, if these symptoms do appear, it’s important to get yourself warm.

She says, “If you have any wet clothing, you’re going to want to remove that wet clothing and then you’re going to want to get to a warmer climate, get inside, put your hand in warm water, not hot water and then other areas in that warm water and then try to put more layers on and then seek medical attention by going to the local emergency room.”

If not taken care of properly, tissue damage could occur, leading to a loss of that extremity. Even more dangerous and actually life threatening is hypothermia. Hypothermia happens when the whole bodies temperatures goes below 95 degrees.

White adds, “Symptoms are usually going to include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, some memory loss. Sometimes the skin can be bright red and sometimes kids can have low energy.”

If you have any of those symptoms, White says it’s very important to seek medical attention.

White says, “It’s very important to go to the emergency room so you can be warmed up appropriately to hopefully prevent further damage. I mean, hypothermia can be fatal.”

White says prevention is key, so if you can avoid being outside when it is really cold. But she says if you do have to be outside, it’s important to wear layers, water resistant coat, gloves, boots, a hat, a scarf. She says it’s also important to let someone else know if you will be outside for an extended period of time in the cold in case of emergency.

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