Cold Wave Alert! 5 Ways How Drop in Temperature Poses Health Risks and Ways to Prevent it

Extreme chilly weather may take a toll on both physical and mental health. Here is how it may lead to health issues.

Cold Wave Alert! 5 Ways How Drop in Temperature Poses Health Risks and Ways to Prevent it (PTI)

Temperature continues to drop in several cities in India. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has also issued a cold wave warning in some states. The national capital is also engulfed by fog and chilly winter mornings. Such extreme weather conditions also may take a toll on people’s health. Elderly, kids and people with comorbidities get more vulnerable during this time. Cold waves, which refer to prolonged periods of extremely cold temperatures, can have various effects on health.

Here are five ways cold waves can impact our well-being:


  1. Hypothermia: Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures during a cold wave can increase the risk of hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce, resulting in a dangerously low body temperature. Symptoms may include shivering, confusion, drowsiness, slurred speech, and loss of coordination. Severe hypothermia can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
  2.  Respiratory Issues: Cold air can irritate the respiratory system and exacerbate respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. Breathing in cold air can cause the airways to constrict, leading to coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Cold waves can also increase the risk of respiratory tract infections, including the common cold and flu.
  3.  Cardiovascular Effects: Cold temperatures can have adverse effects on the cardiovascular system. Cold waves can cause vasoconstriction, where blood vessels narrow, leading to an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. This can put added strain on the heart and increase the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes, especially in individuals with pre-existing heart conditions.
  4.  Frostbite: Frostbite occurs when the skin and underlying tissues freeze due to exposure to extreme cold. It commonly affects the extremities, such as the fingers, toes, nose, and ears. Symptoms of frostbite include numbness, pale or waxy skin, blistering, and tissue damage. Severe cases may require medical intervention, such as rewarming and possible surgery to treat the affected areas.
  5.  Mental Health Impact: Cold waves can also have an impact on mental health. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is associated with seasonal changes, particularly during the winter months when exposure to sunlight is reduced. Cold, gloomy weather during a cold wave can contribute to feelings of low mood, fatigue, and a lack of motivation. It is important to prioritize self-care, engage in activities that boost mood, and seek support if experiencing symptoms of depression or seasonal affective disorder.
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To mitigate the health effects of cold waves, it is crucial to take preventive measures, such as dressing warmly, layering clothing, staying hydrated, and avoiding prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. It is also important to keep homes adequately heated and to check on vulnerable populations, including the elderly, children, and individuals experiencing homelessness, who may be more susceptible to the adverse effects of cold waves.



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