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HomeHealthBracing the Cold: Understanding the Impact of Extreme Winter on Human Body

Bracing the Cold: Understanding the Impact of Extreme Winter on Human Body

Feeling the Chill: How Extreme Cold Affects the Body

Have you ever wondered what happens to your body when it gets really cold? According to a report in a Swedish newspaper, the human body, which is essentially adapted for a tropical climate, feels the impact of extreme cold across all its systems. This isn’t just interesting to know—it’s essential for the expat community in Sweden, where chilly weather isn’t out of the question.

What’s the Deal with Cold?

So, what happens when temperatures drop? To put it simply, our bodies react, and not in the most pleasant way. Albin Stjernbrandt, a senior physician at Norrland’s University Hospital who has researched the effects of cold on health, explains that you can see the effects of cold when the temperatures stay between 10 and 15 degrees plus. If you are sitting still in low temperatures, your body temperature can fall to 35°C, causing your body’s systems to function less efficiently.

“Cold affects the skeletal muscles, making them slower, reducing their power, and resulting in us feeling weaker and more clumsy when we are cold”, Stjernbrandt says.

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Anyone who continues messing with a mobile phone or trying to open a lock in extreme weather should think twice. It’s better to send a message from the comfort of your home or at least sheltered environments, like bus shelters.

Love Your Layers

Stjernbrandt advises dressing warmly, saying “layering is good with a wind and waterproof shell on the outside, warm shoes and gloves.” Getting sweaty and then cold isn’t the best idea—it simply increases the chilling effect. Your hands and feet are especially vulnerable. The classic “layer upon layer” is good, as it allows us to easily adjust clothing depending on how much we move around.

Those in the Crosshairs

It’s noteworthy that the effects of cold weather aren’t spread evenly among populations. Those with chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases are especially at risk when blood vessels constrict due to cold, causing blood pressure to rise. People with skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, or those with spinal cord injuries and diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have impaired temperature regulation.

The common denominator among these groups, of course, is a compromised ability to generate heat. This makes them more prone to the damaging effects of cold weather. Apart from those affected by these conditions, the elderly and women are generally more sensitive to cold, with children and women losing heat fastest due to their larger surface area relative to body weight.

Wrap Up Warm!

Facing extreme cold outdoors brings to mind the adage, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” Tune in to the prevailing weather conditions and dress appropriately. And remember, don’t let the cold deter you from enjoying the beauty that a Swedish winter has to offer!

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