Cold Weather Skin Care

frostbiteAntarctica. Siberia. Buffalo. These are some of the coldest places on Earth. Okay, Buffalo may not be in competition with Siberia, even if this city in New York does have some serious winter snow. However, what these places do have in common is that visitors and residents have to protect their skin from inclement weather and defend themselves against both frostbite and hypothermia.

Skincare in Chilly Weather

Cold weather can be rough and tough on your skin. You’ll have to switch up your skincare routine when the weather turns from warm to cold. Take longer showers and make sure the water’s not too hot, which will dry out skin. Use moisturizing body wash instead of traditional bar soap and pat yourself dry with a towel instead of rubbing. Apply plenty of moisturizer when your skin’s still damp to lock in moisture. When you’re outside, protect your skin by bundling up with a heavy coat, scarf, gloves and a hat. Also, apply sunscreen daily – just because it’s cold that doesn’t mean you’re not subject to sun damage.

Frostbite Overview, Symptoms and Treatment

When the tissue in your body freezes, frostbite occurs. According to WebMD, there are two types of frostbite: superficial and deep. If you have superficial frostbite, you’ll feel burning, tingling and itching. You may also feel numb or cold in the area that’s affected. The area could also be white and even look frozen; when you press on it, you’ll notice there’s resistance. If you have deep frostbite, you’ll slowly start to lose sensation in the affected area. You’ll notice white or yellow skin that looks swollen and may have red blisters. The affected area could even look black in some cases.

To treat frostbite, get to a warm area and keep the affected area elevated, which should help reduce swelling. Drink a warm beverage that’s not caffeinated or alcoholic. If the condition doesn’t improve with self-treatment, visit a doctor or hospital immediately. If left unattended, you could lose the affected area.

To prevent frostbite, make sure to not be exposed to cold weather for an extended period of time, particularly if you don’t have the proper clothing for warmth. Always layer clothing, especially if you know you’re going to be outside, and wear waterproof shoes.

Hypothermia Overview, Symptoms and Treatment

If your body loses heat faster than it can make it, this could result in hypothermia. Shivering, skin that’s blue-gray and numb extremities may be signs of hypothermia. The Mayo Clinic describes additional hypothermia symptoms that include apathy, poor judgement, unsteadiness when walking, slurred speech, shallow breathing and a slow pulse. To treat hypothermia, get to a warm area, wrap yourself up in warm blankets, sit near heaters and use hot water bottles against your body. Hypothermia that’s moderate to severe must be treated by a medical professional.

A person who has hypothermia could very well have frostbite, too. It’s always more important to treat the hypothermia before the frostbite. Losing a life is much worse than losing a finger.

 

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Medications Commonly Needed In Polar Regions

Life within the polar regions involves a unique set of challenges that many people who have never experienced the cold and unforgiving weather and isolated living style of the area would be unprepared to face. While people in the continental United States are used to being able to readily access their most basic needs, people living in Alaska and other polar areas are faced with the challenge of constantly being prepared for emergencies, having a contingency plan in case supplies are unavailable to them and dealing with a lack of subsidized health care for most people. To say the least, life in the polar regions is not a simple undertaking- however, for some people, it is a necessary choice. Inuit people who are indigenous to Alaska and northern regions often have no desire to leave the land their people have lived on for centuries. Some people are taken to polar regions by the draw of work or the military. Regardless of why an individual is living in an arctic area, they must be prepared to live the lifestyle that accompanies their area of residence.

Cold Climates See Increase in Frequency of Some Illnesses

There are a number of illnesses that are commonly faced by people living in polar climates. Some of the major issues faced by residents of polar areas are a lack of subsidized health care for most residents, difficulty accessing doctors due to a lack of providers and difficulty getting much needed medicines to treat serious issues. These people face lower life expectancy than those in the continental US, a higher rate of infant mortality, a higher number of suicides, greater rates of infectious disease and even higher rates of some cancers. Contaminants in the environment also play a role in diminishing health of residents of polar regions.

Because of the effects of climate change, including temperatures becoming warmer and ice melting, infections diseases which were previously relegated to warmer climates have moved north towards polar regions and have seriously impacted residents and wildlife. Antibiotics, antiviral medications, anti-fungal medications and preventative vaccines are all seriously necessary medications for people in the arctic. Traditionally, people in the polar climates have subsided on foods from regional areas such as seal and walrus, but the effects of climate change and other factors on wildlife have led to a switch in diet. The consumption of foods that are higher in fat and carbohydrates while being lower in nutrients has increased the rate of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Medications that lower cholesterol, beta blockers, heart medication and nutritional supplements are also necessary for people of the arctic.

A major challenge being faced by people in polar regions is a lack of an adequate mental health care system. The social issues and deconstruction of the living style that indigenous people have created for themselves has led to mental and psychological unrest for arctic peoples. This can include depression, anxiety, self destructive behavior and suicidal tendencies or actions. For this reason, antidepressants, anti anxiety medications, anti-psychotic medications and appropriate diagnostic tools are also very important for residents of polar regions.

The health struggles faced by those living in the polar climate are a serious threat to the nature of their society. Access to affordable and appropriate treatment can be difficult to come by. Fortunately, a number of scientific concerns and health care groups are working on studying the medical needs of those in polar regions in the hopes of providing better health care for them in the future.

About the Guest Author

Ali Feeney is a health administrator and frequent contributor to blogs that focus on health related issues.  More of her expert advice can be found at Top 10 Online Colleges for Health Care Administration.

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Government Assistance for Residents of Polar Regions

For many people, the idea of living in a polar region like the Arctic is unimaginable. After all, it is a cold and snowy place where the basic comforts of home to which many of us have become overly accustomed are simply not a part of daily life. The access to goods, services and even health care that many of us take for granted are hard to come by in polar regions, but for many people who reside in the Arctic due to tribal ties, family necessity or work related projects, the polar lifestyle that is difficult for so many of us to even conceptualize is a daily reality. The chilled climate of polar regions provides an entirely different set of challenges for Arctic residents, and, although limited, government programs exist to offset some of these challenges.

Arctic Human Health Initiative

One organization dedicated to the health and environmental issues faced by people living in the Arctic is the Arctic Human Health Initiative. This initiative has the involvement of the Alaskan state government as well as several national governmental organizations. The Arctic Human Health Initiative is dedicated to the research of health concerns that plague people of the Arctic and the formulation of goals that will advance the joint human health agenda. The AHHI is the product of international coordination efforts and aims to illuminate Arctic health concerns including low life expectancy, high infant mortality, high suicide rates, high infectious disease rates and a higher rate of the appearance of certain cancers. Also focused on by the Arctic Human Health Initiative are the impacts of environmental conditions on the health of Arctic peoples, including anthropogenic pollution, climate changes, chronic and infectious disease, lifestyle changes and modernization, injuries both unintentional and intentional as well as the productive nature of early disease and social behavior interventions.

Medical Assistance

Resource development for government health care in the Arctic is minimal at best, an issue which has left the native people of Arctic regions struggling to stay healthy and care for themselves. The state government of Alaska has refused to set up a health insurance exchange, a change which will be forced on the state next year if the state does not decide to comply. Fears of health insurance stifling job growth because employers can not afford to insure employees run rampant, although small business organizations are strongly in favor of instituting health insurance policies.

Medicaid is available for Alaskan residents who qualify, as is state mandated chronic and acute medical assistance for the impoverished or disabled Arctic residents through the CAMA program, which targets residents from age 21 through 64. In order for an Arctic resident to qualify for Chronic and Acute Medical Assistance, they must have a medical condition which the program covers, lack any third party resources which would enable their condition to be treated, have little to no financial resources and be either an American citizen or a legal alien to the US. Conditions that fall under CAMA qualifications include terminal illnesses, cancers which require chemotherapy, diabetes insipidus or chronic diabetes, seizure disorders of a chronic nature, long term mental illness and chronic hypertension.

Although government health care in Alaska is lacking, the research being done by the Arctic Human Health Initiative continues to shed light on the medical issues faced by people in polar regions. With that information in mind and recent national health care developments being enacted in the next few years, the governmental health care system of Arctic regions has a good chance of changing for the better.

About the Guest Author

Natalie Gold is a health writer whose interest in public health issues has earned her many accolades.  You may be interested in one of her most recent articles, 10 Killer Super Bugs Confronting Modern Medicine.

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Effects of the Extreme Cold on the Human Body

Living in a cold climate like Alaska can do more damage to your body than you realize. Some areas can be well under 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. Before you visit or live in an unusually cold climate, know the effects cold temperatures can have on your body and mind.

Your Outer Layer

Cold Alaskan weather can wreak havoc on the body’s largest organ, the skin. Cold weather, particularly on windy days, can seep moisture from the body and leave skin cracked, dry, and irritated. Be sure to apply a generous amount of moisturizer before going outside, and don’t forget sunscreen; just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean the sun’s harmful rays can’t do damage. Frostbite in Alaska is also an unfortunately common condition. A person simply grabbing a frozen car door handle can receive mild frostbite injuries due to the harsh cold. While most people assume that frostbite can only be suffered in events of long exposure in harsh elements, the reality is that frostbite can be achieved simply by being outdoors with exposed skin for just a few minutes. Wearing protective clothing over sensitive body parts, like the face, nose, hands, ears, and feet helps to make living in Alaska more bearable.

The Inner You

Depression is common in cold climates as well. Since Alaska is very dark all winter long, so-called ‘cabin fever’ is common among the individuals who live there. An eery trapped-in feeling often occurs, keeping people indoors and poorly motivated to engage in activities or interests.  Fatigue often sets in. Many people living in Alaska use sun lamps to keep their bodies and minds in a positive state, even as the temperatures drop to sub-zero.

Know What You’re Up Against

Alaskan winters are known to be deceiving to novice individuals who live there. Since wind rarely blows in many parts of the state, the bitter cold is often not felt right away. Always check the thermometer to see exactly how cold it is outdoors before venturing out into the Alaskan sunshine in the winter, as it will feel cold within a few minutes. Dress for below zero temperatures, even if the sun is shining on your sunscreen-covered face. Many people fall victim to Alaska’s nasty weather simply because they do not believe the cold temperatures that exist.

Alaska is a frontier of dreadfully cold winters and mild summers, so knowing how to withstand the harsh winter climate is key to healthy survival and thriving while living there. From the dark winter gloom to the extreme temperature drops, it’s important to realize just how harsh living in Alaska can be, and know how to prepare for the extreme cold that is common of the state.

About the Guest Author

Peg Lewis is a public health educator who has enjoys vacationing in every climate, even extreme cold ones.  She writes about health issues facing our communities today at Resource Guide for Public Health Professionals.

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Basic Outdoor Safety in Frigid, Arctic Weather

safety in arcticWinter can be an exciting time in the outdoors. In cold polar regions many love skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing while others are getting their exercise simply by shoveling snow. Some adults like to keep up their exercise routines of walking or running straight through the winter months. Of course, children living in these arctic climates love playing in the snow, sledding and building snow forts. However, with all this outdoor activity in such bitterly cold weather, a certain amount of danger exists. These extreme temperatures can translate to hypothermia, frostbite and dehydration. The good news is that by following a few helpful tips, adults can stay safe while exercising and children can remain healthy while playing in cold weather. The Texas Heart Institute thoroughly outlines a number of these tips on their website, and we’ve outlined some of them here.

Dress in Layers

Wearing layers is the first step to protecting one’s body while outdoors in the cold. Children need layers to keep them warm. Adults should wear layers while exercising because they may need to shed some layers as their body temperatures gradually increase.

Outdoor clothing should consist of at least three layers. The first layer is meant to wick dampness, particularly from perspiration, away from the body. Man-made materials, such as polyesters, are best for this because natural fibers, such as cotton, tend to absorb the moisture. The second layer should be used for natural insulation. Choosing a fleece or wool fiber will hold in one’s body heat. The top layer should protect from the effects of snow and wind chill, providing a windbreaker. Often, nylon is good choice here.

Protect Your Head and Face

The second step is to protect the head and face from cold and wind. Since the blood vessels of the face are close to the surface, this area of the body often loses heat quite rapidly. Hats that cover the ears are vital since the ears are particularly exposed. Choosing a thick scarf or face mask is a smart way not only to protect the nose and mouth but also to pre-warm the air that one breathes.

Ward off Frostbite

The third step is to protect the fingers and toes from frostbite or frostnip. Mittens are usually better than gloves because the fingers are left together in their natural warmth. However, for added warmth, it may be wise to wear a thin pair of gloves under a pair of mittens. Thick, thermal socks, such as the ones used for skiing, protect the toes; these socks can be found in all sizes for adults as well as children.

Drink Up

Finally, drinking plenty of water will keep the body hydrated. Cold temperatures can be confusing since they do not make a person feel as thirsty as warmer temperatures do. Water is a better choice when compared to sugary drinks since water can be quickly absorbed in the body.

Adults exercising outdoors and children playing outdoors can both be kept safe and healthy despite frigid and windy winter weather. Using each of these wise tips whenever heading outdoors will protect from frostbite, hypothermia and general sickness.

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Healthcare Specialities in an Icy World

polar medical specialistsIt takes a brave and bundled soul to step out into the freezing temperatures of a colder climate, let alone work outside in this environment. However, there are many people who reside on a full time as well as a part time status in the arctic worlds and they too require healthcare from a minor cold to a severe injury.

Medical Specialists Most in Demand in Polar Regions

The skin is the most exposed organ on our body and dry, cold climates can wreak havoc on this outermost layer. Overexposed skin can result anywhere from minor skin irritations, chapped/cracked skin, to much more serious conditions like frostnip or frostbite. A dermatologist can provide relief and help in preventing more severe cases of skin issues as a result from exposure to colder temperatures. The average mean income of a dermatologist is $280,000 and this can vary depending on the population of the cold climate region.

Many colder climate areas also have several outdoor activities to participate in including: skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and ice skating/hockey. Many of these activities are risky and injuries can occur. Even just walking around on the ice can result in an injury from a fall. A trauma surgeon would find a perfect niche in this environment with a basic salary around $320,000. There are many small medical clinics located throughout most of the smaller mountain communities, as well as the option to be part of a search and rescue team, especially in areas where avalanches are prevalent. This would also bring about orthopedic surgeons to repair the damage done from an injury resulting in a broken bone or bones. The average mean salary for an orthopedic surgeon is $350,000. With the chance of breaking bones and internal injuries stemmed from a serious injury, surgery is likely and an anesthesiologist would be necessary for any procedure calling for general anesthesia. The average salary for an anesthesiologist is $293,000.

Following an injury, rehabilitation is generally prescribed for the individual. Many of the colder climate areas have multiple rehab centers with physical therapists as well as massage therapists to help speed up the recovery period. A physical therapist can either work for the medical center directly or be an independent contractor. There are also physical therapists that own their facility for rehab sessions. The average mean income for a physical therapist can range from $65,000 to $80,000 depending on if they are working for an organization directly, as an independent contractor, or for themselves. A massage therapist can also work in the same dynamics as a physical therapist and can have a salary that ranges from $25,000 to $40,000.

Depending on where a person is in their educational career, there are several options in the healthcare industry related to working and living in colder climates. The more populated an area is, or if the area has a high tourism season during the colder months, there can be a wide variety of careers to choose from to help those who live, work and play in the icy world.

About the Guest Author

Beth Schroeder is a nurse anesthesist from North Dakota who enjoys sharing her knowledge of both cold climates and healthcare issues. More of her expert advice can be found at Top Online Colleges for Nursing.

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Common Diseases in Polar Regions

Polar regions are spared from common epidemics like dengue and malaria that can found in tropical and subtropical places, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get seriously ill while living in these types of regions or visiting them.  Following is a description of some of the most common diseases that exist in extremely cold climates.

Bacterial Diseases

Diseases like pneumonia and meningitis are commonly reported in Polar regions. Pneumonia is caused by Streptococcus Pnuemoniae or Haemophilus Influenzae. These bacteria can infect the brain and lead to meningitis. The diseases are common in cold areas as the bacteria can survive and continue to reproduce despite the weather conditions.
Tuberculosis is also common in these areas. This is caused by Mycobacterium Tuberculosis that invades and infects the patient’s respiratory system. These illnesses often have flu-like symptoms that include cough, fever and body weakness.

Viral Diseases

Viral diseases often occur during colder seasons and infect people in Polar regions. Influenza and other viral illnesses in the respiratory system are common in these areas. These diseases result from common colds and later lead to severe flu. They are mostly caused by Syncytial Virus that attacks the person’s body in colder areas.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Other reports include sexually transmitted disease cases in the Polar regions. These include Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and HIV. Sexually transmitted diseases spread in any climate and do not slow down their reproduction in extreme weather conditions.

Parasitic Diseases

There are also a number of recorded cases of patients with parasitic diseases in these areas. Reports include illnesses from Echinococcus Multiloculairs and Granulosis that cause Amoebiasis, Ascariasis and other parasitic illnesses. These diseases are often in the gastrointestinal areas of a person’s body and can be contracted through ingesting contaminated food and drinks.

Botulism

Food products derived from whales and seals have been known to cause botulism epidemics in the north. This is an illness that is caused by a bacterium that can be found in canned goods. The usual vector is rats, and they are able to spread the bacteria through their urine and fecal matter.

How to Avoid Getting Sick in Polar Regions

The best way of avoiding an infection from some bacterial and viral diseases is through vaccination. Residents and visitors should take precautionary measures as they are susceptible to flu and bacterial infections that infect their respiratory system. There are shots available for tuberculosis immunization and flu vaccines in hospitals and clinics.

Another way of contracting diseases is through physical contact. This is why people should make sure to wash their hands or apply alcohol based hand gels in order to destroy any bacteria or virus. People can instantly stop the disease’s life cycle this way.

Parasitic diseases are prevalent in Polar regions. For this reason, residents and tourists should not eat from unknown sources. It is recommended that they should only purchase prepared meals or eat at clean restaurants and eateries.

Another way to avoid contracting diseases in the Polar regions is through prophylaxis. This is done by taking precautionary medications for common diseases in the area. Prophylaxis can include antibiotics and anti-virals. This is different from vaccination as the person does not develop an immunity to the disease. Instead, medication is taken in order to avoid potentially contracting specific ailments. The drug will help the body’s defense system if a bacterium or virus enters it.

Living in or visiting extremely cold climates doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience if a few precautions are taken to ensure your health and safety.

About the Guest Author

Charlotte Robinson is a retired nurse and educator who contributes frequently to blogs devoted to healthcare. She writes regularly at Accelerated Nursing Rankings.

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3 Tips for Tourists Headed to Antarctica

travel tipsAdventure seekers all around the world try year after year to outdo themselves in their travel escapades, and the bravest of the brave often choose Antarctica as a dream destination.  However, you should be warned that it is not for everyone.  The environment in Antartica is hostile all year round. It is extremely windy and dry. It is also the coldest place on earth. Before visiting, you should consider your health as the most important issue. You should not visit Antartica if you are not physically fit. The place is not meant for human habitation. There are no hospitals or world-class pharmacies. There are small medical stations but they are not equipped to deal with serious cases and surgery.

Get Insured

Medical travel insurance is a requirement. The Antarctic Treaty Parties in Measure 4 stipulates that every visitor should be covered by medical insurance. Expect your tour, cruise operators and private expedition organizers to ask you to present proof of your insurance. All of them willingly comply with this requirement. Here is an example of medical insurance available online for international travel: Travel Guard, HTH Travel Health Insurance, Frontiermedex and Angel Med Flight.

Get Your Shots

Although you are not required to be vaccinated, you should make it a point to be vaccinated to prevent illness, especially if you are traveling in a cruise or with a group of people. You must protect yourself from infection or contagious diseases from other travelers. You should notify your general physician of your trip so he can advise you of your immunization schedule. Do this 4-8 weeks before you travel. Vaccinations against influenza, meningitis, polio, chickenpox, diphtheria, measles, tetanus and typhoid are needed. Your doctor will determine other shots that you need. Do not forget to go to your dentist for a check-up. You cannot afford to have a toothache in Antarctica.

Although there is very little danger of food and water contamination, get vaccinations against Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, especially if you are part of a tour.  And, as always, use caution against sexually transmitted diseases.

Get Your Skin Covered

Bring two sets of body and face protection for your skin. The severity of the weather will cause your skin to flake. Dry skin bruise easily. Lotion will keep it moisturized and elastic. Take extra supplies because you will not find them sold in Antartica. Get sunscreens labeled SPF 15 or more. Your lips will need lubrication. Men can buy inexpensive colorless balms or lip gloss in drugstores. Women can buy them at the same stores and designer brands in department stores. Get a pair of no-glare sunglasses with UV protection. Also, bring vitamins, like Vitamin D because you will not get an adequate amount of sunlight for your bones. The vitamins will make up for any deficiency from meat and vegetables that are not available in Antartica. It is necessary to drink water constantly to keep your body from dehydrating.

Take time to pack clothes, like turtlenecks, to shield you from the wind. Waterproof winter boots are essential. Bring two pairs of warm gloves, thick socks and protection for your head.

Get Going

Go to the bookstores and get a book on Antartica. Read as much as you can. Your good judgment will keep you healthy and safe.

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Cold Climate Ailments Often Hard to Stomach

People are generally amazed at the impact that a few degrees in their climate can have on their health. The truth is that colder climates cause our bodies to behave and function differently. Combining this change with other factors such as age and diet can have severe repercussions. Individuals living in cold climates, polar regions in particular, are acutely aware of the relationship. In polar regions the temperature can fluctuate rapidly. The body has difficulty adapting to a 50 degree drop in temperature over a matter of hours. This kind of change leaves children and the elderly in particularly vulnerable conditions. If these vulnerabilities are combined with other illnesses and poor or unstable diets, then gastrointestinal disorders begin to become a prevalent issue.

Gastrointestinal Disorders in Polar Regions

In colder climates, gastrointestinal diseases are much more common than in other areas of the world. There are many risk factors that cause the statistical change. Among the ones that can be directly linked to the cold weather are diet and the ability of the body to cope with normal functions such as digestion. Individuals living in colder climates are prone to dramatic increases in their food intake during winter months. The food assists in maintaining body heat and also provides a sense of comfort. However, the stomach is not always equipped to handle the excess nourishment. As a result, an excessive amount of food sits in the stomach or next to vital tissue undigested. The longer it is left to breakdown, the greater the risks associated with disease. The functions of the body are already slowed by the cold environment, and the increase in food intake has the potential to compound the problem.

In these polar environments we see the most dramatic rises in gastrointestinal disorders in the forms of Crohns disease and and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Diseases which are more serious, though occurring with less regularity in these regions, include Gastric adenocarcinoma and Malabsorption syndromes. These disorders can have symptoms which are very similar in their initial stages. Individuals will experience headache and fever that eventually worsens. Following these symptoms it is common to experience abdominal distension, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. Other factors that put people at risk can include genetics and age. A family history of the disease is a good indicator of the likelihood the disease will occur.

People between the ages of 13 and 35 are at the greatest risk of contracting gastrointestinal disorders. Caucasians also display a tendency to be at the greatest risk for developing a disorder. The concentration of individuals of this race in some polar regions may also account for the elevated rates of diagnosis.

Treatment Options for Gastrointestinal Disease

Treatment for each kind of gastrointestinal disease can vary. However, diet and lifestyle choices play a big part in the majority of cases. Easing the discomfort of Crohns disease is almost exclusively regulated through these measures. Medications such as sulfasalazine and corticosteroids are prescribed for many patients. The most severe cases can call for corrective surgery. These instances involve real risk and are typically reserved for those that are facing life-threatening factors.

While genetics and environmental variables may be out of the hands of many suffering from gastrointestinal disorders, maintaining a proper diet and becoming aware of the signs of a problem is completely within the power of the individual. Complete health is about remaining aware of your body’s needs and establishing an equilibrium between it and your surroundings, especially in frigid conditions.

About the Guest Author

Ronald Boone is a nurse practitioner and frequent contributor to healthcare resources around the worldwide web.  More of his advice can be found at Top 10 Best Online RN to BSN Programs.

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Working in a Winter Wonderland: The Dangers of Polar Conditions for Healthcare Professionals

healthcare hazardsWhile the winter can frost a bland town in gleaming, icy beauty, there are plenty of dangers associated with wintry conditions. For medical workers employed in polar regions, these dangers are a constant reality. Imagine facing potential death every time you take a step outside. That’s not a fun situation to be in. Regardless, many health professionals are attracted to such harsh environments because they know that their services will be needed most in such places. The following are some of the most common polar hazards for healthcare workers stationed in wintry workplaces.

Freezing Temperatures

Polar regions are extremely cold. There are a number of reasons why this can be very dangerous. First, subzero temperatures can cause hypothermia, frostbite, and even death. Some places can get as cold as -50 degrees Fahrenheit during the dead of winter, but it only takes getting to 32 degrees to turn water into ice. According to WebMD, Hypothermia occurs when your body’s equilibrium temperature is lowered to a point where regular metabolism is hindered. This can cause confusion, slowed breathing, loss of coordination, sleepiness and more. Some people can’t fight the sleepiness and never wake up again because their organs shut down. Frostbite occurs when the blood freezes and doesn’t reach the extremities. This leads to tissue death and extreme pain in affected areas. In severe cases of frostbite, partial amputation is the only way to save a limb.

Fragile Ground

Snowfall can cover up cracks and crevices in the ground. It can be very easy to step on what looks like solid ground just to fall through to your death. Frozen lakes, rivers, and ponds can be very dangerous as well. While you might believe that they are frozen solid, random weaknesses in the ice can cause you to fall through and become trapped in freezing water under a huge ice wall. Even if you don’t drown, the hypothermia and frostbite could kill you minutes later. Healthcare professionals working in a polar environment should always watch their step.

Snow and Ice

Snow can become a huge inconvenience when it accumulates. When it piles up to over one foot, it will become difficult to get around on foot. After two feet of snowfall, walking is nearly impossible. At three feet, you won’t be able to go anywhere. If inside, you could be trapped where you are. When all of this snow melts, a bigger problem surfaces. Ice is very dangerous because it is dense, slippery, and hard. It can be easy to fall on ice and break a bone. It can also fall from trees and buildings to cause serious injury or death. Ice also has the ability to freeze things solid making entering buildings, vehicles, and containers very tough.

Strong Winds

Powerful gusts of cold air can do a lot of damage to buildings, equipment, and people. It’s very possible to get knocked off your feet and injured by strong winds. Winds can also knock out power, cut communications to the outside, and cause all kinds of other inconveniences.

As you can see, medical professionals are putting their own lives at risk by continuing to work in polar regions. Many disregard their own health and safety to aid those in distress–and that’s a very honorable thing. However, you can’t save a life if your own is at risk, so being informed about polar dangers is the best defense.

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