How to stay healthy in cold weather? Doctor has tips
Flu season is here, but Brooklyn residents can avoid the coughing, sneezing and aching agony associated with the flu if they take precautions in the cold weather, according to a top doctor.
Dr. John Marshall, chairman of Emergency Medicine at Maimonides Medical Center, a 711-bed hospital at 4802 10th Ave., has issued a list of handy tips on how to reduce the chances of getting sick this winter.
“Whether you are indoors or outdoors, coping with cold weather comes with certain health risks. With a few sensible precautions, much pain and suffering can be prevented,” Marshall said.
Chief among the doctor’s tips: Dress warmly. Marshall said that layering clothing will provide the best insulation and that mittens are better than gloves because fingers stay warmer when next to each other. Be sure to cover your head and neck. Wearing a hat will help you stay warm and protect your ears. A scarf adds warmth to the neck and chest area, Marshall said.
One should wear properly-fitted winter boots. Boots that are too tight can limit circulation to the feet and toes. And choose a boot that is insulated and has treads on the bottom, Marshall advised. Treads provide traction on ice and snow.
“When you are outdoors, any exposed skin chills rapidly, blood flow decreases and your body temperature drops. That’s when you are vulnerable to frostbite and hypothermia,” Marshall said. “Frostbite starts with tingling or stinging sensations. The face, fingers, and toes are the first body parts to be affected; then muscles and other tissues can become numb.”
During the winter months, it’s important to stay hydrated, Marshall said. That’s because the body uses a lot of energy to keep itself warm. Drinking plenty of fluids is important because the body will need replenishing when fighting off the cold, he said.
If you are shoveling snow, take frequent breaks, the doctor said. And when possible, push the snow rather than lift it. This will reduce the amount of stress on your body.
“By following these simple steps, everyone can get through the winter weather safely. So dress appropriately, drink fluids, minimize skin exposure to the cold and enjoy,” Marshall said.
A spokeswoman for Maimonides told the Brooklyn Eagle in an email that the emergency room does see more patients coming in with orthopedic injuries and influenza types of illnesses, but that the hospital doesn’t categorize patients with snow or ice-related injuries.
There is also a health risk associated with being indoors in cold weather, according to Marshall, who said this is especially true if a home is not heated adequately.
But do not use a kerosene heater, even if the house is cold, he said, because it could easily cause a fire. He also advised that residents not use their ovens to heat the house as an oven can produce deadly carbon monoxide gas.
For more information on the Maimonides Medical Center, visit www.maimonidesmed.org.
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