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How does cold exposure affect the body?

 Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD
Emergency Medicine
Shivering protects the chilled body by producing heat but stops when we are very cold. Water in our skin and tissues can crystallize and freeze, causing abnormal function and sensation. Toes, nose, fingers, and ears are especially sensitive to cold. Frostbite and hypothermia are the two emergencies associated with cold exposure. Hypothermia can be life-threatening and must be treated immediately. It can take days for a rewarmed person to show any signs of functioning.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.