By Sarah Waldrop
Holt Journal staff writer
Besides snow fights and snowmen, this winter has also caused record-breaking sub-zero temperatures and snowfall. With the bitter cold, reports of illnesses and injuries have become more common.
“The most common things that I have seen are rib, ankle, shoulder and back injuries related to slipping and falling on the ice,” McLaren Redi Care physician Ra Scott Lazzara said. McLaren Redi Care is an urgent care facility working through McLaren Greater Lansing hospital.
Broken bones, sprains and bruising are caused by layers of snow covering sheets of ice. Many people are losing their balance outdoors because that layer of ice is not visible underneath the snow. “These injuries do not necessarily have to happen in public places, they could be on your front porch,” Lazzara said.
The weather is not necessarily the direct cause when it comes to having the cold or the flu. The cold temperatures and dehydration weaken the immune system, but ultimately it is being stuck indoors with recirculating germs that cause these illnesses. Drinking plenty of water, staying active and following more recommendations from Sparrow Medical Group and McLaren Redi Care can deter some of these illnesses.
“As far as flu shots go, typically you want to get them anywhere between late October through early December,” Lazzara recommends. It takes the antibodies from the shot about four to six weeks to properly protect the body against the virus. If the flu shot is administered too late, there is no guarantee that the body will be protected in time for flu season. A new strand of the flu comes out every year, making it beneficial to renew the flu shot annually, Dr. Lazzara said.
Cold temperatures also bring about a risk of frostbite to hands, feet and the nose. Not wearing proper boots or layers can cause symptoms such as bluing of the skin and pain. To treat symptoms of frostbite, gradually heat the area with warm water. If the symptoms continue seek medical treatment, Lazzara said.
Different types of illnesses and injuries happen in winter than in summer. Snow, ice and cold temperatures can turn a snowball fight into a battle with the weather.
Recommendations to fight illness and injury from Sparrow Medical Group and McLaren Redi Care:
· Hand hygiene
· Wear layers and supportive boots
· Drive safely
· If sick, stay home
· Change furnace filter frequently
· Stay hydrated
· Remain active
· Get enough sleep