The deaths of two Lauderdale County residents this week due to hypothermia are reminders of how dangerous cold weather can be. And the weather is about to be much colder in the next few days.
Newscenter 11 spoke with Dr. Scot Bell of internal medicine at Rush Hospital. He says the cold can create many physical complications.
Bell says hypothermia is defined as a body temperature less than 95 degrees Fahrenheit or 35 degrees Celsius. There are symptoms to be aware.
"In cold weather, your body may lose heat more rapidly than it can actually produce the heat, so the exposure to the cold can begin to affect the organs of the body," said Bell of Rush Hospital internal medicine. "It may affect your neurological system, your ability to think, concentrate, and may cause some abnormalities with the heart, specifically some abnormal heart rhythms. "
"The first signs and symptoms that you may notice are becoming a little sleepy, more clumsy, inability to concentrate, also you may notice a rapid heart rate," said Bell.
Bell said anyone who experiences these symptoms should seek medical treatment right away.
"Of course, younger children and older adults may be at increased risk," said Bell. "Others on certain medications or other medical illnesses may predispose them to injury related to cold weather."
Bell suggests limiting physical activity in the extreme cold. If you do have to be outside for some time, you should simply put on many layers of clothes to stay warm.
"As far as just preventing any cold-related injury, the first thing is just to cover up, typically using multiple layers of closing," Bell said.