Monday, November 16, 2009

Information and Prevention to Avoid Frostbite

By Gail Mardew

People living in Canada, Alaska, England and other countries subject to very cold climate, frostbites are common occurrences especially for people who, for some reason, are often staying outside in the cold. It can be a very dangerous condition if one is not properly garbed against cold climate.

Frostbites occur when bodily tissues are damaged due to exposure to extreme cold at a long period of time. Skin and limbs that are often exposed like the nose, ears and cheeks are the parts of the body that often get frostbitten. Insufficient clothing will also allow intense cold to penetrate to the skin and may cause damage to an even greater surface area in the body.

MedlinePlus, the information center of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, has enumerated symptoms for frostbites. Areas that are frostbitten are cold and hard to touch. Early stage of frostbite is indicated by stinging red skin. The tingling akin to pins and needles will eventually feel numb appear white as the tissues begin to freeze. As the degree of intensity increases, the color of the skin darkens accordingly. Worst case frostbites may even appear blackened or bruised.

According to MedlinePlus, frostbite is damage to the skin and underlying tissues caused by extreme cold. In extreme cases of this affliction, blood vessels could end up damaged and cause permanent damage. Amputation will then become a necessity because f let alone, this could develop into gangrene and may spread to other unaffected areas of the body.

It will be fortunate if the frostbite is only a minor case because the affected area may still have complete recovery. But to a degree this is not a very comforting thought because the process of thawing is very painful. As the frozen tissues thaw and blood begins flowing back into the area, it goes back to the red-raw state of the early stages of frostbite. The patient will feel a tingling that escalates as sensation creeps back in the affected area.

Acquiring frostbites is a serious condition because it often comes with other afflictions. Trauma for one thing, both physically (when the affected area has to regain sensation and mastery of motion again) and psychologically (if the events leading to exposure in the cold is a disturbing experience). There is also a very high chance of the patient of going through hypothermia, especially in intense cases. Among the worse things that may happen is the development of gangrene in affected areas if not treated immediately.

Prevention is always better than cure. Avoiding frostbites is certainly more appealing than having to endure the pain of recovery from it. It is necessary to be properly and sufficiently clothed when in a very cold climate. Among the basic winter clothing are thick mittens, mufflers, hats and scarves and water resistant thermal clothing. The ideal way is to wear these clothes in layers to ensure that body heat is preserved and cold is kept out of the body. People not used to very cold climates should all the more follow these SOPs.

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