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The Suburbanite
  • Cold temps can hurt your immune system

  • Dr. Justin Andes from Affinity Medical Center offers some suggestions to avoid frostbite, treat flu symptoms, and stay healthy this season.
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  • Neither Affinity Medical Center in Massillon nor Aultman Hospital in Canton saw any frostbite or hypothermia patients in the emergency room as of Monday afternoon.
    Popular myth says bundle up so you don't catch a cold. Freezing temperatures do not directly cause colds or influenza, but weather can put stress on the body and decrease proper functioning, health experts say.
    "The cold weather takes a toll on the body and can run down your immune system," said Dr. Justin Andes of Affinity Medical Center's emergency department. "That can expose you to multiple types of infections. You can pick up influenza or bronchitis or upper respiratory tract infections."
    So far, the emergency room has seen patients of all ages from babies to elderly with influenza, Andes said. Symptoms include high fevers of 103 and 104, as well as muscle aches and pains.
    "It is that time of year," he said. "If people haven't gotten their flu shot we recommend that they do. They still can get the flu, but it protects you against the most prevalent ones we believe are out there."
    Washing your hands and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze helps decrease the spread of illness.
    "Typically, these things are all viral so antibiotics won't kill them," he said.
    He said nasal decongestants, Tylenol, Motrin, sinus rinses and long hot showers can help people with flu symptoms and help relieve some of the nasal congestion.
    "Even warm chicken noodle soup can help you feel better," he said.
    He said people should see their doctors if they do not see improvement after a week of symptoms.
    "Not yet, possibly in the next few days we may see frostbite and hypothermia from outdoor workers," he said. "With frostbite the best thing to remember is don't warm and then go back out into the cold environment. Damage occurs when the tissues freeze, you melt them, and you freeze them again. If you're going to be stuck outside you definitely need to take proper precautions."
    Andes recommends dressing in multiple layers and staying dry.
    If gloves or any article of clothing gets wet or damp, replace with dry clothing, he said.
    "That dampness creates more problems," he said.
    Aultman Hospital offers the same tips as WebMD, said Tiffany Zingg, Aultman spokesperson:
    • Wear proper clothing and shoes;
    • Keep extra clothing in the vehicle in case of a breakdown;
    • Keep hands and feet dry;
    • Protect eyes from cold and wind by wearing glasses or goggles during outside activities;
    • Limit the amount of time out in cold, wet, or windy weather;
    • Cover head, neck, and face as much as possible;
    Page 2 of 2 - • Apply lip protection;
    • Avoid too much sweating, causing clothing to become damp;
    • Dress warmly even if indoors, and keep room temperature above 65.