When the temperature drops in Atlanta, it's possible that you can experience various cold weather injuries. As an urgent care clinic in Atlanta, we see our fair share of injuries from exposure, slips on ice, hypothermia, and more.
At WestsideMed, we'll always be here when you need a helping hand. However, it's crucial to go over different prevention measures to make sure that you're happy and healthy, regardless of temperature.
You already have enough to worry about with flu season; don't let these possible injuries sideline you this holiday season. Let's look at some of the most common cold weather injuries, what they look like, and how to get your body back to normal.
When your body loses heat faster than it can generate it, hypothermia sets in. Exposure to the cold for long periods, whether from shoveling snow or going on a walk, can easily result in hypothermia.
Hypothermia is an especially dangerous cold weather condition. If you can't generate heat quickly enough, and your body temperature is 95 °F or below, you suffer from hypothermia.
Common hypothermia signs are:
- Uncontrollable shivering
- Memory loss
- Numbness in the extremities
- Increased breathing
Hypothermia can set in quickly and can be fatal.
Tips For Preventing Hypothermia
Cold exposure and low body heat are the causes of hypothermia. So wearing adequate weather gear is the first line of defense against hypothermia setting in. Wearing layers and a hat can make a noticeable difference in hypothermia prevention.
Skin-to-skin contact, warm drinks, and removing wet clothing are all solid ways to stave off hypothermia and prevent a loss in body temperature. Avoid alcohol consumption at all costs. According to the CDC:
"The vasodilatation caused by alcohol provides a sensation of warmth but also increases heat loss through radiation. In addition, alcohol and other drugs impair hand coordination, mobility, and decision-making abilities."
Keeping wet clothes on is also a major health hazard. Keeping yourself dry is one of the best ways to prevent the further development of hypothermia symptoms. If you have wet clothing, keeping it on will only make hypothermia worse, as they draw heat out of your body.
To sum up, if you must remain outdoors for an extended period, wear multiple layers, avoid alcohol, and keep dry.
Slips And Falls
With icy surfaces comes the high risk of slipping and falling. As such, slips and falls result in fractures, bruises, concussions, and more. If a fall is severe enough, you can even find yourself in the hospital for a few days. Everyone is susceptible to a nasty slip and fall, so it's crucial to be ready.
How To Prevent Slips And Falls This Winter
Being mindful is vital. Watching where you step is essential. But that's sometimes easier said than done. Black ice, in particular, is hazardous. Since black ice blends in seamlessly with the ground, it's difficult to remain vigilant.
An excellent way to deal with ice is by wearing winter boots with great treads, reducing your chances of slipping and falling. A good pair of boots could mean the difference between getting an x-ray in Atlanta or not.
Likewise, walking a certain way allows you the best opportunity to avoid falling. For example, keep your arms out of your pockets, as you're actively reducing your ability to keep your balance. Practice walking with slow, short steps over an icy area. Always assume that there may be black ice wherever you're traversing.
And above all, keep a cell phone ready in case you experience a fall and experience a medical emergency. Older adults, in particular, are at greater risk for fractures, brain damage, and other damage from a fall. These incidents could very well become chronic conditions that will need long-term attention.
Regardless of age, getting to an urgent care clinic to assess the damage is vital to recovering from injuries from cold weather.
If you're not bundling up this winter, you're exposing yourself to possible frostbite. Frostbite is when your skin tissue is damaged from cold temperatures.
It's never a good idea to linger outside for too long without proper outerwear. Your hands and face may show redness, which is an early warning sign of frostbite.
At this stage, called 'frostnip,' the symptoms are minor. But don't push it. If you can, find gloves, a hat, and other protective outerwear.
Common frostbite symptoms are:
- Prickling or tingling sensation in the skin
- The skin turns hard to the touch
- Swollen skin
- Skin color changes
Frostbite is known for its severe and dangerous change in color to the skin. For example, in the late stages of frostbite, the skin can turn blue or black.
Frostnip Vs. Frostbite
Unlike full-blown frostbite, frostnip doesn't permanently damage skin tissue. Your hands or face may appear red and numb. But while frostnip doesn't pose a significant danger, it can easily lead to frostbite, which can lead to extremity amputation.
In short, frostnip is minor and is a warning sign that frostbite is possible. Frostbite is the result of skin exposure to cold until the skin has tissue damage from the cold temperature.
The best way to prevent frostbite is to be prepared for cold weather with proper outerwear.
After you come back indoors, do not try to submerge the affected areas of your skin in hot water. As tempting as it may be, it can damage already sensitive, damaged skin. Instead, soak your skin in warm water until your skin returns to normal. It’s a gradual process, but you must exercise caution not to further damage your skin.
Preventing and Treating Cold Weather Injuries in Atlanta With WestsideMed
Have you had a nasty slip on ice? Are you experiencing symptoms of hypothermia, chilblains, sprains, and strains? At WestsideMed, we won't leave you out in the cold.
With X-rays in Atlanta, vaccinations, annual physicals, and many more medical services, WestsideMed is prepared for whichever condition you suffer from.
At WestsideMed, Atlanta, urgent care doctors, and medical providers help you warm up and tackle nearly any pressing issue you may have. With a warm, welcoming environment for all, it's the perfect place to take care of your health this winter. Whether warming up or getting your annual physical in Atlanta, we're here to help you find medical solutions.
“Hypothermia-Related Deaths --- United States, 2003.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 Mar. 2004