Weather

Woman with a headache

Triggers For Cool Weather Pain

You may have heard the expression, “kill the messenger,” and indeed that may have been what you wanted to do when, on Groundhog’s Day, this year, the prognosticating rodent came out of his whole and saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter. As American columnist and author, Bill Vaughn once said, “The groundhog is like most other prophets, it delivers its prediction and then disappears.”

Although many of us have our own reasons to wish for the early end of winter weather, it is especially understandable for those of us who suffer from cold weather pain. However, if you are included in this number, there may be some precautions you can take before you go on a bloodthirsty hunt for old Punxsutawney Phil. Here are some common triggers of cool weather discomfort you may be able to avoid.

Winter Air
The two main sources for skin hydration are healthy fats and moisture from the air. However, when the air gets dry, there is less moisture for the lips and skin to absorb, which can lead to chapping and flaking. Lip licking can exacerbate the problem and lead to cold sores and dehydrated skin can crack and even bleed, leading to possible infection.

Barbara Doty, MD and family physician says, “Develop the habit of caring for your skin on a daily basis. Have easy access to lip balm, use a good moisturizer, and avoid excessive use of soap.”

Woman shovelling snow

Shoveling Snow
According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, about 11,500 people are treated for snow shoveling injuries yearly, and the wetter the snow, the heavier it is. Sandra Fryhofer, MD explains, “Shoveling puts strain on your heart. If you have heart problem get someone else to do it.”

However, even if your heart is in good condition, you need to take precautions. Fryhofer suggests waterproof shoes and an ergonomically designed shovel, which is lightweight and has a curved shaft to help keep your back straight when you use it, Dr. Doty advises that you, “Pick up smaller portions of snow for less weight per shovel.” It is also best to use your legs rather than your back to lift and to shovel in both directions, rather than in one, to avoid strain.

Dark Days
Headaches are signs of seasonal affective disorders. According to Laura Knobel, MD, changes in barometric pressure can trigger migraines and less sunlight can cause a vitamin D deficiency, which has been linked to an increase of headaches in the winter and fall.

“If headaches are due to lack of sun,” says Dr. Knobel, “natural spectrum lights can make a big difference for some people.” She also suggests using garden grow lights to grow indoor plants as a relief from winter blues, adding, “Seeing the seedlings grow can give you hope that spring is on its way.”

Woman coughing

Dehydration
Dehydration is a problem in winter as well as summer. Not drinking enough water can make you achy because it prevents the body from processing waste products efficiently.

Try to maintain a healthy water intake by sticking to plain water rather than warm caffeinated drinks, like black and green tea or water. Dr, Doty warns against caffeinated beverages, “which are diuretics,” and leave bodies at a hydration deficit.

Colds
Of course one of the biggest causes of winter pain is the common cold, or flu, and the dry air can make it worse. Doty says, “In winter, nasal passages get plugged more easily, and with a lot more mucus, it can get irritated down in the back of your throat, which means you can’t clear it as well.” To avoid sickness, get your annual flu shot if you haven’t already and try natural remedies and get plenty of rest to soothe symptoms.

Are you thinking of throwing rocks at the groundhog? If so, we want to hear from you. What are your most common cold weather pain triggers and how do you avoid them? Let us know!

Woman sweating after a jog

Say No To Heat Related Emergencies

Is it getting hot in here?  Survey says, “It’s getting hot in here.”  Although summertime is a great time for freedom and the great outdoors, there are a few days when even the most dedicated athlete or worker needs to take a break.  When temperatures in the body reach 104 degrees F or higher, cellular damage from the heat will start to occur after about 30 minutes. Since 1979 the death rate from heat-related causes is 0.5 per one million.  But by taking the proper steps, we can get that number down to zero.

Children In Hot Vehicles
It’s tough to be a parent.  You can’t leave children at home alone and babysitters are expensive, but sometimes you need to leave the house.  Small children require extra schlepping.  Even if there is not a stroller involved, there is the carrying, holding hands, and constant urging to walk faster and not to veer into oncoming pedestrians or vehicular traffic.  Then, once the child  is in the store, there is always the possibility that they will stray or find some product that they just can’t live without, hence the unavoidable meltdown.  It is so  tempting to leave them in the car, walk in the store come out and be done with it.  But beware, long lines and indecision could often cause the time you spend in the store to grow, and the more time in the store, the more dangerous it becomes for the child.  And keep in mind, a car can reach 110 degrees even if temperatures are in the 60’s.

Work
We all need to make the rent at the end of the day and, for many of us, taking days is not an option. Workers that work in a hot environment are prime candidates for heat illnesses and injuries.  Heat  can also cause occupational hazards, like when safety glasses get fogged up or sweaty palms cause a loose grip of tools and machinery.  Highest at risk are firefighters, construction workers, miners, and bakery workers among others. Workers over 65 or who are overweight or have high blood pressure are more at risk than others.

Woman sweating

Athletes
The American Health Association advises that the average person gets 4 hours of cardio a week.  Many of us see this as a point of no contention.  They will religiously aim to do a minimum of exercise weekly or daily and may claim to not “feel right” if they don’t.  It is true, that exercise can become addictive. Some miss the rise in endorphins, some miss the routine. The same can be said of athletes.  In blind dedication to a sport or dream, many athletes may push themselves to play and train on days when it is better not to. People exercising in a hot environment are among the most prone to heat exhaustion. There were 5 player deaths in America from 1931 and 1958.  There were 103 player deaths in America between 1960-2000.  Heat exhaustion rates are highest for athletes who play high school football.

What Can We Do?
Don’t make the mistake of trying to do too much on the first hot days of the year.  Do a portion of what you need to and take a break; your body will build up a naturals resistance.Keep yourself hydrated, and skip the alcohol. Do not leave children, elderly people or pets alone in a parked car.  Use cool compresses and keep physical activity to a minimum.  Symptoms of heat exhaustion include paleness, nausea, headache, muscle cramps and heavy sweating.  If you see someone exhibiting these signs, move them to a cooler area and get medical assistance.  There is a 100% chance survival rate for heat exhaustion when proper treatment is given.