Bundle Up! Recognizing the Signs of Frostbite

Tuesday, January 06, 2015 12:09 PM comments (0)

Avoiding-FrostbiteBlustery winds, snow banks and icy paths don’t always make for pleasant trips outdoors to run errands, participate in winter sports or shovel. And, although there isn’t anything we can do to change the outdoor temperatures, we can be sure to dress appropriately when outside to avoid getting too cold or suffering from frostbite.

Ernest Wang, MD, Emergency Department physician at NorthShore, tells us how to stay warm in the frigid outdoors and how to recognize the signs of frostbite if you've been outside too long:

  • Cover your head and ears by wearing a hat. You lose a lot of your body’s heat from your head, so wearing a hat will help keep you warm and comfortable.
  • Dress in layers. Wearing layers will allow you to change and remove clothes if necessary. On particularly cold days you may want to consider wearing long underwear. Don’t forget to put on gloves or mittens.
  • Know the signs of frostbite and when to seek medical attention. These signs include:
    o    Pain – stinging, burning, throbbing or aching
    o    Numbness
    o    Discoloration of the skin—often appears gray, white or yellow
    o    Blistering of the skin
  • Limit the amount of time you’ll be outside on very cold days. If you are starting to get very cold, go indoors and warm up. If your face, hands or feet start feeling numb it may be a sign that you’ve been outside too long.

How do you stay warm when temperatures take a dive?

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Winter Safety Tips

Tuesday, January 07, 2014 1:20 PM comments (0)

Winter SaferyWinter has arrived--with a venegence. Shovels and snow plows are out of storage for the season, and there's probably a layer of frost covering the windows. Winter can be quite beautiful from the safety of your home, but it can be dangerous as soon as you step out the front door, from an increased risk of frostbite and slip-and-fall injuries to impaired road conditions.

With proper preparation and attentiveness to potential hazardous seasonal conditions, many of the risks of winter can be greatly reduced or avoided altogether.

Timothy Sanborn, MD, Cardiologist at NorthShore, offers the following winter safety tips:

  • Take your time when shoveling. While you may want to get the job done fast, it’s important not to overexert yourself. If you start to feel pressure in your chest or experience shortness of breath, take a break and slow down. If symptoms last more than five minutes, you may need to seek medical attention.
  • Be careful of icy sidewalks. Common winter injuries, especially to the ankles and wrists, can be the result of slipping or falling on slick surfaces. For minor injuries, be sure to stretch the area and maintain flexibility for 2-3 days. If you fall and are in severe pain, and notice swelling around the joints, be sure to go to the hospital. You should also go to the hospital if you’ve hit your head and are suffering from a severe headache, vomiting or confusion.
  • Use salt on sidewalks and driveways. The more steps you can employ to reduce your risk of injury, the better. Before a big storm, try to salt heavily trafficked area to help limit your chances of accidents.
  • Stay inside in inclement weather. If you know a big storm is coming, postpone going out to run errands. Stay off the roads as much as possible. If you are elderly or have problems with your balance, get help with shoveling and daily routines.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite. Keep skin covered at all times. Signs of frostbite include: pain (stinging, throbbing, burning), numbness, blistering of the skin or discoloration.

How do you prepare for winter weather?

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Winter Got You Down?

Friday, January 06, 2012 9:05 AM comments (1)

 As the days get shorter and the temperatures continue to drop during winter, some people experience depression-like symptoms. Dr. Robert Farra, Director of Solutions for Depression and Anxiety at NorthShore, shines some light on commonly asked questions relating to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Q: What is seasonal affective disorder?

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that affects a person during the same time each year.
  • Anyone can get SAD, but it’s most common with people who live in areas where winter days are short and there is limited sunlight.

Q: What are the symptoms of SAD?

  • Feeling sad or moody
  • Loss of interest in usually pleasurable things
  • Eating more and craving carbohydrates
  • Gaining weight
  • Sleeping more and feeling drowsy during the day

Q: How many people are affected?

  • It is estimated that half million (500,000) people in the U.S. have SAD.

Q: Why do many people experience depression before the holidays?

  • Typically the days of little sunshine
  • Stress of the season

Q: How can people combat seasonal depression? Any concrete tips?

  • Light therapy may help.  Sitting in front of a high intensity fluorescent lamp (usually 10,000 Lux) for 30 mins to 2 hours can help.
  • Sometimes people respond better to an antidepressant and specialized treatment called Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).
  • Depression, regardless of cause, shows up as negative thoughts and feelings.  Ruminating about negative thoughts and feelings can bring us down.
  • CBT teaches that negative thoughts and behaviors, while influenced by such things as a lack of sunlight, are still within a person’s ability to change.

Are you affected by the change of the season? What do you do to stay active even with less sunshine?

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