7 Sneaky Effects That Cold Weather Has On Your Health
As winter begins to roll in, it’s worth considering how prepared you are for cold weather. Whether it’s checking the condition of your home’s roof or ensuring you have an ice scraper stored in your vehicle, you should take the time to make sure you’re ready for any inclement winter weather.
But just as you should be taking care of your home, property, and vehicle in preparation for winter, you should also make sure you are physically prepared for it. The cold of winter can have some sneaky effects on your health, from affecting your immune system to drying out your skin and hair. Here are some common effects that you should be aware of, particularly to protect yourself and your health.
Serious Health Hazards
Cold weather can have some serious health effects, all of which should be avoided at all costs. Watch out for any of these while outdoors.
1. Heart Health
Cold weather can have a negative effect on your heart, especially the more time you spend out in cold conditions. This is caused by your body attempting to keep homeostasis—the process through which your body works to maintain normal, resting conditions. Your heart is related to this process because it will work harder, while in a cold environment, to keep your body warm. This means of maintaining stasis will lead both your heart rate and blood pressure to increase.
If you’re someone with a pre-existing heart condition, this could lead to a heart attack. For relatively healthy people, this can lead to continued stress being placed on your heart, which can have deleterious effects in the long run. To protect yourself in cold weather, it’s in your best interest to bundle up prior to heading outside. Furthermore, consider partaking in some heart-healthy exercise to increase the condition of your heart prior to the winter months, including exercises such as walking, jogging, biking, and swimming.
While your heart might work harder to keep your body warm under cold conditions, it might not be able to get you back to a place of stasis. Hypothermia occurs when your body drops below 95˚F, as the body reaches a state where it cannot make up the temperature lost on its own.
This is a serious condition that should be treated immediately if believed to be occurring. Symptoms include shivering, confusion, clumsiness, and, at its worst, a feeling of overheating while being in extreme cold. Severe, long-lasting health problems can follow bouts of hypothermia, so it is imperative that you get yourself to a warm location once it is noticed.
Often damaging exposed body parts or extended parts of the body, including your cheeks, chin, ears, fingers, nose, and toes, frostbite is a dangerous condition that should be avoided at all costs.
When skin becomes frostbitten, it will begin to feel stiff and numb, with skin becoming hard and appearing to be gray. Under the worst conditions, your skin will become black, although it is best if you do not allow frostbite to proceed to this level.
Less Severe But Considerable Effects
While not as serious as the health effects above, you should still be aware of the ways cold weather can affect your health.
4. Skin And Nasal Health
Versus the spring and summer months, when humidity tends to be at its highest, winter air tends to be excessively dry. This dry winter air can cause your skin and nasal passages to become dry. Many people have probably experienced this at some point in their life, from their arms becoming chafed and flaky to getting bloody noses due to overly dry nasal passages.
To protect your skin, consider covering it with a healthy moisturizer each morning and following your showers. And, for your nose health, it might be a good idea to invest in an in-home humidifier that will leave your throat and nose feeling properly lubricated with natural mucus.
5. Risk Of Falling Outdoors
Once it becomes cold outside, and temperatures reach freezing conditions, it’s even more likely for there to be ice on the roads and sidewalks. This increase in ice means a greater likelihood of slipping and falling while outdoors. Older folks are especially at risk of falling, due to a decrease in balance and coordination; furthermore, the likelihood of injury in this part of the population increases due to a decrease in bone density. It’s best to keep your eye on the roads and sidewalks while out walking in the winter months, all to avoid a pesky patch of ice. Use pull-on crampons for the boots you use to do outdoor chores.
6. Brittle Hair
The winter months can be pretty rough on your hair. For men struggling with hair loss, it might feel comforting, as you can wear a beanie outdoors to protect your head and hide concern for a receding hairline, but that beanie and the weather can make things worse.
Your favorite pom-pom hat might lead to you having “hat head” by the end of the day. The overly dry, cold weather can lead to your hair and scalp becoming dry, itchy, and brittle, with dandruff seemingly appearing overnight. Similar to your skin and nasal passages, your hair can become negatively affected by ongoing cold weather. To protect your scalp, it’s in your best interest to use moisturizing hair care products that will restore and revitalize the condition of your hair and scalp.
7. An Increased Sedentary Lifestyle
During the winter months, many people will do their best to avoid the cold outdoors. However, this means many people will rely on staying at home, reclining and binging Netflix. This sedentary behavior can lead to many health issues that might not be apparent at the moment but which can sneak up on you with time—from heart disease to obesity. Even if you don’t feel like spending time in the outdoors, consider taking time at a nearby gym or simply doing some exercises within your home to stay active.
The winter months are approaching. Consider keeping these effects in mind to make sure they don’t sneak up on you before it’s too late.