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Category Archives: Winter Health

How to Recognize and Prevent Frostbite

All too often, frostbite is portrayed as something that happens only in very extreme conditions, such as when a person is stranded in an inoperable vehicle for a couple of days in the midst of a blizzard.

But while that kind of dire situation certainly increases the chances of becoming frostbitten, the fact of the matter is that frostbite can begin to occur in a matter of minutes given the right temperature (below 20 degrees) and wind speed (more than 20 mph). In other words, exposed skin may be susceptible to frostbite even if you’re just shoveling the snow in your driveway or walking to the store to stock up on supplies.

To protect yourself from frostbite, it’s important to learn how to recognize and prevent this dangerous wintertime threat. Here are the basics:

Feb 4 recognize and prevent frostbite 2Common symptoms of frostbite

  • Redness or soreness of exposed skin
  • Pale yellow, white, or grayish skin appearance
  • Numbness, prickling, or tingling in the affected area
  • Hardened, waxy looking skin
  • Blister formation
  • Complete loss of feeling in the affected area
  • Darkening or blackening of skin in the affected area

Frostbite prevention tips

  • Dress in several loose layers of clothing, including a moisture-wicking base layer, a wool or fleece insulating layer, and a wind and water-resistant outer layer.
  • Wear mittens instead of gloves to keep hands and fingers warmer. If engaging in an activity where manual dexterity is required, use battery heated gloves for consistent, long lasting warmth.
  • battery heated socksProtect feet and toes with insulated waterproof boots and wool socks. You may also consider wearing battery heated socks that provide up to 14 hours of warming power on a single charge.
  • Cover your head with a knit or wool cap, beanie, or hood to help retain body heat.
  • Since dehydration can speed the onset of frostbite, be sure to drink a glass of water if you plan to be outside for longer than 45 minutes.
  • Take frequent breaks in a sheltered area away from the wind and snow or end your outdoor activity if the weather degrades into dangerous territory.

Frostbite isn’t something that only happens to isolated individuals in remote locations. Anyone can become a victim if the conditions are right, so take the above precautions and be on the lookout for early signs of frostbite whenever you go out in bad weather.

Tips for Raynaud’s Sufferers

Raynaud-hand2Raynaud’s disease (or Raynaud’s phenomenon) is a condition in which poor blood flow to the extremities results in coldness or numbness in the fingers and/or toes. Cold temperatures and stress exacerbate the effects, which means Raynaud’s sufferers can be especially uncomfortable in winter. And while the causes of the condition are not well understood, many treatment options are available, including prescription medication and, in the most severe cases, nerve surgery. Home remedies may also be effective in controlling symptoms, with the following management tips for Raynaud’s particularly encouraged:

  • Refrain from using tobacco products and do not expose yourself to secondhand cigarette smoke.
  • Limit or completely eliminate caffeine from your diet, as some studies have shown that this stimulant may restrict blood flow to the heart, brain, and extremities.
  • Protect fingers and toes when going outdoors in winter by wearing battery heated socks or gloves. Unlike ordinary gloves and socks, the battery heated apparel we have at CozyWinters come with variable heat settings that allow you to instantly crank up the warmth if temperatures drop unexpectedly.
  • Use heated slippers when walking around in the house to keep your toes warm even on cold flooring.
  • Replace ordinary blankets with electric blankets for consistent warming power all night long.
  • Consider using a heated foot warmer near your favorite couch or armchair and a heated floor mat in the kitchen to protect feet when relaxing or cooking.
  • When cooking, protect hands from cold or frozen meats and vegetables by wearing a thin pair of cotton gloves underneath a pair of disposable food preparation gloves. You can also keep a bowl of warm water standing by in case the gloves are not enough and you need to quickly warm your hands.
  • Soak hands and feet in warm water when you feel a flareup coming on, and then follow with a soothing moisturizer to prevent skin from cracking.
  • Monitor the frequency and severity of symptoms and flareups, and see your doctor if your condition begins to worsen.

If you suffer from Raynaud’s disease, you know how challenging it can be to complete even simple tasks like making dinner, going out for fresh air, or merely sleeping soundly through a winter’s night. Still, there are a variety of things you can do to manage your symptoms and live more comfortably, so give the above suggestions a try to prevent or alleviate future flareups.

Prevent Cold Stress With These Tips

cold stress blogEvery winter, OSHA issues warnings about the dangers of cold stress, a condition caused by extended exposure to a combination of low temperatures, strong wind, and dampness/wetness.

Cold stress can take a variety of forms, but is usually characterized by shivering, tingling or loss of feeling in the extremities, loss of coordination, and confusion or disorientation. Depending on the length of exposure and severity of symptoms, cold stress can result in hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot.

If you work outdoors, you can help prevent cold stress by taking proper precautions, including the following:

  • Check the day’s weather report before leaving home so you can have the latest information regarding temperature, wind chill, and projected storms.
  • Dress appropriately for the conditions you expect to face. Layering is always recommended in winter, and can be supplemented with battery heated clothing for additional warmth or waterproof gear to protect against snow and rain.
  • Take special care of your extremities with the help of battery heated gloves and heated socks to prevent frostbite.
  • Sip on warm, caffeine-free beverages or soups to maintain body temperature and energy levels.
  • Take frequent breaks indoors or in a sheltered area to give your body a chance to warm up and/or dry off.
  • Work in pairs whenever possible. If working alone, be sure to let someone know where you are and check in at regular intervals via cell phone or walkie-talkie to confirm your safety and well-being.
  • Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of hypothermia, frostbite, and general cold stress so you can recognize them when they begin to occur.
  • Know the treatment protocols for dealing with affected individuals while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive on the scene.

Whether plowing snow, working on a road crew, or repairing electrical lines, any kind of job that takes you outdoors in winter has the potential to result in cold stress. Stay safe by dressing for the weather, using battery heated apparel to protect your core and extremities, and employing the above tips where applicable.

Reasons You Always Feel Cold (and what to do about it)

always feel coldWhen you are always cold regardless of the temperature or season, life can be a bit more challenging. For example, your performance at school or work could suffer due to an inability to concentrate, and you may find it virtually impossible to get comfortable enough to sleep soundly every night. In addition, you might also restrict yourself from certain activities such as skiing or snowboarding for fear of being too cold to enjoy the outing.

Pinpointing the root cause of your temperature sensitivity can go a long way towards helping you manage the condition; unfortunately, there are a large number of possible triggers to consider. Here are a few of the most common ones:

Medical factors

Cause: You have a very low BMI. This often means you don’t have enough body fat to provide adequate insulation against the cold and/or your metabolism is too slow to generate adequate body heat.
Cure: Check with your doctor about embarking on a weight gain program featuring lots of healthy proteins and fats.

Cause: You suffer from hypothyroidism, a disorder in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. Greater sensitivity to cold is one symptom of this condition.
Cure: After being diagnosed by a doctor, you will likely begin a regimen of hormone therapy to regulate your body’s hormone levels.

Cause: You have Raynaud’s Syndrome, in which the arteries near your extremities spasm, leaving your fingers and toes feeling cold and numb.
Cure: Mild forms of the disease can be treated by wearing warm clothing, such as battery heated gloves or socks, while the severest forms may require chemical injections or nerve surgery.

Environmental factors

Cause: The furnace in your home is set too low.
Cure: To warm up without increasing your heating bill, try using electric blankets on your bed, electric throws on your sofa and armchairs, and heated towel warmers in your bathroom.

Cause: You work in an office that is too cold for comfort.
Cure: Install a radiant heating panel under your desk to keep your legs warm, use a heated footrest for your feet and toes, or try a compact, energy-saving space heater that fits on your desktop.

Cause: You don’t bundle up enough for the temperature or weather conditions.
Cure: Wearing multiple layers and covering up with Gerbing Gyde heated clothing, including vests, fleeces, shells, gloves, and pants, can protect you from even the harshest winter elements.

These are only a handful of the possible medical and environmental factors that could be causing you to feel cold all the time. If you suspect you suffer from a serious medical condition, see your healthcare practitioner as soon as possible. Otherwise, try one of the suggested cures listed here to warm up at work or at home.

How to Recuperate After Skiing

Whenever you engage in vigorous exercise or sports such as skiing and snowboarding, you run the risk of suffering from pain and stiffness after the activity. Known as delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS), this is not a serious condition; however, it can interfere with your ability to walk, climb stairs, or even sit comfortably for the next few days.

While there is no surefire way to prevent DOMS—even the most highly conditioned athletes can experience soreness depending on how hard or how long they go—you can reduce the associated pain and speed up recovery time by trying one or more of these treatment options:

  • ski snowboard sore musclesTake an over-the-counter medication such as Advil (ibuprofen), naproxen sodium (Aleve), or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug to reduce swelling and provide temporary pain relief.
  • Gently stretch or foam roll any sore spots in your calves, quads, hamstrings, or IT band. You can find general stretching and foam rolling instructional videos on YouTube, as well as routines designed especially for skiers.
  • Soak in a hot bath or jacuzzi or sit in a sauna to loosen tight muscles, promote circulation, and promote recovery.
  • Replenish your body’s energy stores by eating balanced, nutritious meals and drinking lots of water in the days following your ski run. Fruits (especially cherries, bananas, melons, and pineapple), complex carbs (rolled oats, brown rice), and lean protein (poultry, fish) have been shown to have positive effects on DOMS, while adequate hydration is always a key to recovery.
  • Follow the RICE treatment protocol (rest, ice, compression, elevation) for muscle soreness that persists for more than three days. If you suspect that your pain is being caused by something more serious than DOMS, stop all strenuous activity and see a doctor as soon as you can.

Skiing and snowboarding are tough on your body, so don’t be surprised if you need to spend a few days recuperating after each session on the mountain. Just be sure to use some of the above treatment ideas to relieve your exercise induced muscle soreness and help you get back on the slopes as soon as possible.

How to Improve Circulation

Poor circulation can be caused by any number of medical or lifestyle factors, including diabetes, hypothyroidism, lack of exercise, smoking, and obesity. Individuals that suffer from poor circulation typically experience coldness or numbness in their extremities, pain or cramping while walking, and slower healing of wounds. More serious issues, such as greater susceptibility to blood clots, kidney damage, and heart problems, may develop if the condition is left untreated.

If you currently exhibit any signs or symptoms of poor circulation, you should see your doctor immediately. In the meantime, you might be able to improve your circulation by doing one or more of the following:

  • universal-heated-wrap_HEngage in some form of moderate aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming, or biking, for at least 30 minutes per day
  • Stand up at least once an hour to stretch, shake out your limbs, and get your blood flowing a bit more
  • Wear battery heated socks (which you can find at CozyWinters.com) or compression socks to promote circulation through your lower legs
  • Do simple yoga poses designed to aid circulatory performance
  • Use far infrared heat technology, available in our Universal Heat Wrap, on your legs, back, shoulders, neck, and elsewhere to penetrate deep into tissue and stimulate blood flow
  • Limit your consumption of sodium, saturated fats, caffeine, and unhealthy, processed foods
  • Keep well hydrated by drinking at least 64 oz. of water per day
  • Prop your feet above heart level for a few minutes several times throughout the day to increase lower body circulation

Although these tips are in no way meant to replace professional advice or medical treatment, they could help improve blood flow and ease some of the discomfort caused by the more common side effects of poor circulation. Give them a try today.

What to Have in Your Winter First-Aid Kit

first aid kitWhen you ski or snowboard in-bounds at a heavily populated resort area, you don’t have to worry much about medical emergencies. As long as you dress for the weather in your heated outdoor apparel, you should be fine. And if you do happen to have an accident or require assistance on the slopes, you can count on receiving thorough, professional attention within minutes.

But it’s a different story when you venture out-of-bounds or embark on a backcountry excursion with just a handful of friends. In a situation like that, it’s critical that everyone in the party carry a first-aid kit packed not only with standard supplies but also with items designed specifically for cold-weather crises. So as you gear up for your next extreme adventure, make sure your winter first-aid kit contains the following:

Standard supplies

  • Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
  • Medical tape
  • Nonstick gauze pads
  • Ace bandages
  • Wound disinfectant spray
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Moleskin, Glacier Gel, or similar blister treatment
  • Fine-point tweezers for splinter removal
  • OTC pain reliever such as aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Basic first-aid manual

Additional winter supplies

  • Mylar emergency blanket
  • Air-activated hand, body, and foot warmers, such as the Little Hotties products offered by CozyWinters
  • Waterproof matches
  • Safety whistle
  • Instruction manual or cards with information on treating hypothermia, frostbite, and snow blindness

As you can see, adding winter first-aid supplies to your standard first-aid kit won’t result in an overly heavy or bulky pack. Make sure you and your friends include the above items so you’ll be prepared to deal with minor emergencies and will be able to get back to the fun as soon as possible.

Winter Storm Safety Tips

stormFor the most part, winter is a glorious season that gives rise to gleaming white landscapes and gorgeous days filled with skiing, sledding, trekking, and snowboarding.

But winter can also be extremely dangerous, especially when massive storms bring heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures to large areas of the country. For an example of this, look no further than the havoc created by winter storm Hercules in the Midwest and Northeast a few days ago.

If you live in a place that is vulnerable to fierce storms like Hercules, it’s critical that you maintain your home in a state of readiness so you can increase your chances of surviving whatever ordeal may come your way. Here are a few important tips for what to do before and during winter storms.

Before the storm
Make sure you have the following items on hand well before any big storm is predicted or announced by the weather service:

  • Three-day supply of drinking water for each person in your household (to be calculated as one gallon per person per day)
  • Three-day supply of MREs, energy bars, canned goods, or other easy-to-prepare, nonperishable food items
  • Extra winter clothing for each person, including hats, coats, gloves, and boots
  • Extra blankets
  • Flashlights with fresh batteries
  • First-aid kit and medications
  • Battery-operated or hand-cranked radio for news updates and announcements
  • Pet supplies and pet food, if necessary
  • Alternative heating source, such as a wood-burning stove or fireplace (for safety reasons, avoid using gas or propane grills indoors)
  • Cash for emergency purchases

During the storm
Once a major storm hits, take the following actions to ensure your family’s safety:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible and avoid driving
  • If your home loses power or becomes structurally unsound, go to the nearest public shelter
  • Keep the thermostat set to at least 55 degrees–even overnight–to help prevent pipes from freezing and bursting
  • Bring pets inside or provide them with access to a sturdy shelter
  • When going outdoors, guard against hypothermia by dressing in battery-heated clothing such as vests, jackets, and gloves
  • As soon as conditions permit, check on elderly, disabled, or homebound individuals in your neighborhood
  • In the event of a power outage, use your radio to keep aware of official information

Being prepared with the right supplies and knowing what to do when a major winter storm hits are the biggest keys to outwitting Mother Nature, so keep the above tips in mind and stay safe out there!

When and How to Use Heat Therapy to Treat Pain

Heated Back Wrap Heat therapy is one of the most effective ways to treat persistent pain associated with minor injuries, sore muscles, and chronic arthritis. When applied to problem areas, heat increases blood flow and loosens stiff joints and muscles, bringing almost instant relief to your ailing body.

But when is the best time to use heat therapy and how can you apply it? Let’s take a look at a few of the more common scenarios.

When to use heat therapy

Heat therapy can be used to treat a number of non-inflamed injuries, disorders, and conditions, such as:

  • Minor muscle pain resulting from repetitive motion or exercise
  • Joint pain related to the onset of arthritis
  • Discomfort stemming from menstrual cramps
  • Lower back pain
  • Migraines
  • General stress relief

How to use heat therapy

There are a variety of ways to deliver the heat required for therapeutic uses, so you can just choose the method that works best for you. Bear in mind that safety and comfort are the key points as you consider the following:

  • Wearing a battery heated back wrap
  • Soaking in a warm/hot bath or whirlpool
  • Sitting in a sauna
  • Wearing a reusable therapeutic shoulder wrap
  • Using a hot water bottle
  • Applying warm compresses or heat patches

Whatever your ailment and whichever delivery method you choose, experts recommend engaging in heat therapy for up to 20 minutes twice a day for the best results.

Heat therapy is a tried and true method for overcoming a whole host of pain-related issues, so if you suffer from any of the conditions listed above, it’s definitely worth a try. Be sure to visit CozyWinters.com today to view our selection of effective heat therapy products that can help you beat chronic pain at last.

Signs/Symptoms of Hypothermia

Stay Safe this Winter Some people take refuge in their homes at the first hint of cold temperatures or snowfall, never to emerge again until spring. But there’s plenty of fun to be had outdoors even in the winter, especially if you take care to protect yourself against the elements with battery heated clothing and similar gear.

For example, a high-quality jacket paired with heated gloves can help ward off hypothermia and other serious risks posed by extreme temperatures. Hypothermia is the condition that arises when your body loses heat at a greater rate than it produces heat, causing your internal temperature to dip to a dangerous—or even life-threatening—level.

If you plan to spend significant time outdoors this winter or if you work with children or the elderly, it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the most common signs and symptoms of hypothermia. These include:

  • Near-constant shivering that may become progressively more intense
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Stumbling or staggering
  • Drowsiness or lethargy
  • Mumbled or slurred speech
  • Weak pulse
  • Memory loss or confusion
  • Irrational behavior, such as attempting to remove warm clothing

In the elderly, the symptoms of hypothermia may manifest a bit differently—particularly if the condition is caused by factors unrelated to the outdoors (such as a poorly insulated home or cranked up air conditioning).  In these situations be on the lookout for:

  • Faster breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Fatigue
  • Shivering

And in the case of infants, get ready to take action if you notice bright red skin that is cold to the touch or if the child exhibits very low energy levels.

If left untreated, hypothermia can lead to frostbite, gangrene, trench foot, chilblains, or worse. Being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of this condition is one way to avoid disaster; being prepared for the elements with new battery heated clothing and cold weather gear from CozyWinters.com is another, so check out our site today.