How to Spot and Prevent Frostbite

Frostbite is an injury caused to the skin and underlying tissues as a result of exposure to windy and cold- weather conditions.

Staying outside in extreme weather conditions for extended periods of time is the most common factor and risks increase when temperatures fall below 5°farenheit, or in conditions with above freezing temperatures and extreme wind chills. Additional factors may include:

  • Direct contact with ice, very cold liquids and freezing metals.
  • Wearing clothing that is not suitable to protect against cold weather.

Although frostbite mostly occurs on parts of the skin that are not properly covered, it is important to note that in extreme temperatures it can also develop on areas that are covered by clothing.

Our nose, fingers, cheeks, ears and toes are the parts of our bodies that are highly susceptible to frostbite. They are furthest away from our core and are first to decrease in blood flow in cold temperatures.

The symptoms of frostbite vary with severity and are categorized in three stages:

Frostnip:  This is a mild form of frostbite. Skin may turn pale or very red and feels cold.  The affected areas may also itch, burn, sting or feel tingly. Continued exposure may lead to a “pins and needles” feeling or numbness.

Superficial Frostbite:  Skin appears reddened or pale. Skin can become hard and look waxy or shiny.  At this stage, after the skin is thawed, blisters may form on the affected area. Skin may also appear blue or purple once rewarmed.

Severe (Deep) Frostbite:  Severe cases of frostbite affect all layers of the skin as well as the tissues that lie below.  Skin becomes very hard and cold to the touch. It may look blue and some instances black, as the tissue dies. The affected area may lose all sensation and joints or muscles may no longer work.

Some people are more at risk of developing frostbite than others, they include:

  • The elderly
  • Young children
  • Patients taking medication such as beta blockers that reduce blood flow to skin
  • Diabetics
  • People who use nicotine
  • People under the influence of alcohol
  • People with prior cold-related injuries

Frostbite is preventable. If you expect to spend time outdoors in cold weather, take care in protecting yourself. Dress appropriately and in layers.  When temperatures become extreme, stay inside as much as possible. It is also advised that you stay hydrated; dehydration increases your risk of frostbite. Avoid drinking alcohol or smoking if you know you will be outside in the extreme cold.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How Cold Weather Affects Asthma

When very cold and dry air enters the body, and subsequently the lungs it can cause a tightening of the airways. Cold air can cause wheezing, tightness of the chest muscles, shortness of breath, coughing, a sense of dizziness and sometimes difficulty speaking.

Taking some precautions before going outside in very cold weather can help ease the symptoms. It is important to keep asthma under control at all times. It can be helpful to take a dose of an asthma inhalant ten minutes before going outdoors. This will aid in keeping the airways open. People with asthma should carry their medication with them if they know they are going to be outdoors for any period of time. Another good idea is to keep your mouth and nose covered with a scarf when you are outside in cold weather. This will help to warm the air you are breathing. Anyone who has asthma should avoid strenuous outdoor activities. Sometimes the act of just walking on a windy day can bring on symptoms of an asthma attack. Try breathing through your nose more and through your mouth less. This will help to warm the air that enters your lungs.

People with asthma know the effects it can have during the cold days of winter. Taking a few precautions can help minimize the effects of the cold air on the body.

If you are experiencing symptoms of asthma and would like to seek the advice of a physician at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center, call 718-206-7001 to schedule an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Tips on How to Prevent Getting Sick on a Plane

Tips to prevent getting sick on a plane

The chances of getting sick on a plane are high (especially during cold and flu season) because you are in close contact with fellow travelers and exposed to surfaces that may not be properly sanitized.  Additionally, air cabins tend to have low humidity levels which dry mucus from our noses and throats – creating an environment for germs and viruses to thrive.

Although these flying conditions are often beyond our control, there are measures that can be taken to lessen our exposure to germs and decrease our chances of getting sick.  Here are a few:

  • Get enough sleep before your flight- This will provide your immune system with a much-needed boost.
  • Stay hydrated- Keeping your body hydrated before and during your flight will prevent mucus from drying out.
  • Keep your hands clean by frequently washing them with soap and water or using a sanitizer- Doing so will limit exposure to germs (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that handwashing can prevent up to 21% of respiratory infections).
  • Use sanitizing wipes on surfaces you will touch- It is highly recommended that you wipe down tray tables, bathroom flush buttons, overhead air vents, seatbelt buckles and seat pockets. These areas are touched by millions of people and are perfect environments for germs to live.
  • Keep air vents on- HEPA filters used on planes are effective at removing bacteria and airborne viruses.
  • Wear a mask, especially if you are sitting next to someone who is constantly coughing or displaying other symptoms of a respiratory infection.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth – If you need to do so, make sure your hands are clean. Your eyes, nose and mouth serve as points of entry for germs.

It is important to remember germs and viruses can live for hours on certain surfaces. In fact, the flu virus can live up to 24 hours on any hard surface. Therefore, it is important that you follow the given precautions to protect your health and prevent the spread of germs and viruses.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.