DEC 05, 2022
Cold Weather and Health Risks
Cold weather has the potential to cause serious health risks to those who already suffer from dangerous or painful health conditions, particularly diabetes, arthritis, and poor circulation. There are precautions you can take that help you to manage your health conditions during the cold weather season.
Circulation and Cold Weather
Cold weather can affect blood circulation, especially if you are someone who already struggles with circulation issues. When the veins and arteries have a decreased amount of space for blood to flow, you may experience reduced oxygen to the heart, triggering further health challenges.
You body also must work harder to keep your core temperature at healthy levels. This additional stress on the body can cause the blood to thicken, increasing your chance of blood clots.
What You Can Do To Prevent Winter Circulation Issues
Getting plenty of water throughout the day will help thin out your blood and keep it flowing. Try to avoid drinking a lot of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. These may be your go-to beverages when it’s cold outside, but they won’t do a lot to increase blood flow. If you need something to help warm you up, try a cup of warm water with a lemon or orange slice or two.
Eat less Fatty or Salty Foods
You may feel like curling up on the couch with a bag of potato chips when the temperature dips, but this is one of the worst things you can do. An excess of salty or fatty foods can lead to fluid retention, leaving you at risk for a host of other health conditions. Fruits and veggies, or foods high in fiber and nutrients make a much better choice for keeping your body healthy and combatting the cold temps.
It might be hard to drag yourself out the door when the temperatures bottom out, but it’s important to keep your body moving. If it’s not snowy or icy out, try to get out for some outdoor exercise wearing some cold weather running gear to provide the appropriate amount of insulation.
If you can’t make it outside, or if it’s too dangerous due to snow or ice, do some indoor exercise just to keep your blood moving. Even something as simple as walking around the house or going up and down the stairs will help and probably warm you up also.
The easiest way to increase your circulation at any time of the year is to wear compression. Wearing true gradient compression encourages better blood flow back to the heart.
Diabetes and Cold Weather
Cold weather can also cause challenges to diabetics. It can be difficult to keep your glucose at appropriate levels. It’s harder to exercise in cold weather, especially if your area is prone to snow and ice. We also tend to eat more during cold temperatures, especially unhealthy comfort foods.
When you exercise, your blood sugar decreases helping your body to better use insulin. It’s also a great way to warm you up! If conditions outside are safe, bundle up and head outdoors for a good workout. If not, there are lots of great exercise opportunities you can do indoors to help you stay healthy.
Watch Your Diet
Cold weather usually coincides with the holidays, which can easily mean an abundance of unhealthy foods and over-indulgence. Try your best to stick to your healthy eating routines, which are designed to keep your blood sugars at healthy levels.
Protect Yourself From Illness
When you are sick, diabetes becomes an even bigger challenge. Sugar levels frequently rise when your body is fighting the flu and other viruses. The best remedy for managing illnesses and diabetes is prevention. Make sure you are up to date on all your vaccinations, including the flu shot.
Warm Your Hands Before Testing Blood
If your hands are too cold, you may not be able to get an accurate blood sugar reading when testing. A good way to warm them up quickly is to wash them in warm water before testing.
Protect Your Feet
Diabetes can cause a loss of feeling in your toes and feet, so you may not be able to feel if there is a problem. Inspect your feet often and be diligent in caring for them. Wear a good pair of seamless, moisture-wicking socks, like SmartKnit, that will keep your feet dry and protected from irritation. Moisturize your feet often, but avoid applying moisturizer in between the toes to prevent infection.
Arthritis and Cold Weather
Winter weather and arthritis do not go together very well. The cold can be particularly painful for arthritis sufferers. The cold temperatures can cause your joints to swell, or become stiff and inflamed.
Staying active during the winter is equally as important for people with arthritis as it is for people with poor compression or diabetes. Exercise is very helpful in managing arthritis pain. Physical activity will increase your flexibility and strength, which will in turn ease your discomfort.
Keep Your Body Warm
Keeping your body warm is not an easy task during winter months, but it’s important to make every attempt to stay warm as a way to reduce your pain. Wear gloves and warm socks when going outside. Warm showers or a nice soak in a hot tub is a great way to warm the body up and relieve pain in the joints.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Holiday overeating can cause arthritis to flare up. Try to avoid foods that are rich and heavy. Choose things like fruit and veggies, healthily-prepared meats, and food rich in nutrients instead. It’s okay to sample a little bit of these holiday delights, but stick to the healthy choices as a rule.
Wearing compression over your ankles and knees can help to alleviate some of your arthritic pain. To apply this same compression to your hands, Ease Lymphedema Gauntlets can be a great choice.
Winter definitely has its challenges for people with poor circulation, diabetes, and arthritis, but it doesn’t have to make the next three months miserable. Following these tips will keep you feeling good and healthy all winter long and you’ll be in your best shape to enjoy your summer months. They’ll be here before you know it!
This article should not be used in place of advice from a medical doctor or occupational therapist.