Health Hazards Accompany Bitterly Cold Temps

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Meridian, Miss. Record breaking temperatures are expected to impact our area over the next couple of days.

This is the kind of cold that can be hazardous to your health if you're not properly prepared to deal with it. Two major medical conditions that accompany cold weather are frostbite and hypothermia. Many in the south are unfamiliar with cold related health problems. So what is frostbite?

"Frostbite is freezing of exposed tissue," according to Dr. James Kady at Anderson Regional Medical Center in Meridian. "Mainly fingers, toes, nose, ears after prolonged exposure to the cold. If you ever recall seeing these mountaineers that come off of Everest with black tips of their noses, black ears. That’s a more extreme case."

Our bodies normally stay right around 98.6 degrees. Mild hypothermia happens when your body temperature drops to 95 degrees.

"Mild hypothermia is where you start to shiver," Kady explains. "Your body starts to generate its own heat by shivering. Around 90 or so, core body temp, you lose your shivering ability, you start to have mental status changes, and things get much worse from there because you can't produce your own heat."

Dr. Kady says wearing the right clothes will make all the difference in these cold conditions and we're talking about items that you probably already have in your closet or drawers.

"Some of the big things to remember, wear a hat, wear gloves, wear appropriate fitting clothes," the doctor says. "Clothes that are too tight, and don't wick moisture away from your body and keep you damp. Those are more likely to make you hypothermic."

As always, be sure to properly care for your pets in the cold.