Its cold outside, and now that winter is finally here, Quebecers know that the frost will soon start nibbling away at their nose, fingers and toes. As the numbness sets in, some very dangerous things start happening inside your body. When the temperature drops, your body kicks in to survival mode and reroutes blood from your extremities towards your more important organs like your brain and your heart in order to combat hypothermia.
Without blood to warm them, your fingers toes, nose, ears. and cheeks are particularly susceptible to damage from the freezing temperatures or frostbite. If the temperatures are low enough, and you stay out in the cold long enough, small crystals made of ice can begin to form in-between your cells. These ice crystals cause water to drain out of your skin cells and dehydrates them in the process. At the same time, the ice crystals make it very difficult for your body to deliver oxygen to the affected area. Suffice it to say, that ice crystals, a lack of oxygen, and dehydration make it very difficult for your body to keep these cells and capillaries alive.
Once you get yourself back indoors and near some warmth, you aren’t exactly out of harm’s way. The rewarming of frozen tissue creates a whole host of issues. As blood begins to flow again, the tissue undergoes what is known as ‘reperfusion damage’. This type of damage causes inflammation, excess fluid, and blood to pool and clot. This makes your cells, capillaries and tissue very unhappy (if they weren’t already). Frostbite can be dangerous.
If the damage is really bad, you may even end up in the hospital where you will need to be evaluated for potential damage done to bone, muscle and tendon tissue. It can even take several weeks or months for the damage from frost bite to reveal its true extent. So you might be asking yourself, what can i do to prevent frost bite? The best way to prevent frost bite is by wearing proper clothing, maintaining hydration, avoiding low temperatures, and staying active without becoming exhausted. If you’ve been exposed to freezing temperatures and are unsure of your symptoms, please do not hesitate to seek urgent medical care immediately.
PS: Check out our Prevention Updates HERE!