Dangerously cold weather on the way: How it can affect your health

Dangerously cold weather is on the way: how it can affect your health
Posted at 5:36 PM, Dec 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-20 19:59:17-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — On a sunny day in Centennial Park, you'll find runners like Kevin McCormick.

"Nashville is super hilly, but this... it's almost exactly a mile — one loop around the path here — and it's one of the only routes in Nashville that doesn't have a bunch of hills," he said.

But come the end of the week, McCormick will be indoors on his Peloton.

"Once it's super icy, you don't want to slip on the ice," he said.

As arctic air blows into Tennessee, potential flash freezing is just one of many concerns. The single-digit temperatures put stress on the body, which can constrict blood vessels, raising the risk of a heart attack.

Those with respiratory diseases like asthma or COPD are also at risk.

"If it's really cold, like single digits, it hurts when you breathe," said Centennial Park runner, Frank Tong. "That's the hardest part about running in the cold."

Exposure to the cold will use up your body's stored energy, which could result in low body temperature. Frostnip, frostbite, and even hypothermia are also a concern.

Frostnip is a mild form of frostbite that can lead to numbness of the skin, turning it pink or red, but it won't cause permanent skin damage.

Frostbite, however, can cause severe damage and will change your skin to a yellowish-gray or white color.

Prolonged exposure can lead to hypothermia — when your body temperature has dipped below normal, losing heat faster than it can make it. Symptoms include shivering, fatigue, loss of coordination, confusion, and disorientation.

If you do have to go outside for any reason, bundle up. Wear a hat, gloves and a warm coat, and cover your fingers and your face.

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