Sunday, February 17, 2013

Winter weather and your health

Why is it important to dress accordingly? Simply wearing a hat on your head will keep you warm as most of your body heat escapes through the top of your head. Cold air is an irritant to mucous linings. When cold air irritates the mucous lining there is an increase of mucus secretion. Runny nose and phlegm are the result of an irritated mucous lining. This compromise within the mucous lining places you at risk for lower and upper respiratory illness.

Cold air also constricts the blood vessels. When blood vessels constrict, the heart will beat harder and faster to maintain blood flow throughout the body. As a result blood pressure increases, a blood clot may form and the risk for stroke increases. This can be devastating to individuals who have a cardiac history, such as high blood pressure or cardiac stents. Diabetics are also vulnerable to cold air crisis'. Blood vessels in diabetes are damaged due to the break down of the interior lining of the blood vessel wall. People with asthma are at risk. The bronchial tree in asthma is irritated and inflamed with increased fluid production. The sudden swallow of cold air could trigger a respiratory constriction.

Going from a warm home to the cold outside is just enough to create a health problem. The sudden extreme flip-flop in temperature is a shock to the human body. Dress to prevent cold air health crisis.

Good health,
Trisha M. Pacenti RN, BSN