Almost everyone knows about winter dangers for older people such as broken bones from falls on ice or breathing problems caused by cold air. But not everyone knows that cold weather can also lower the temperature inside your body. This drop in body temperature, called hypothermia, can be deadly if not treated quickly.

Check the weather forecast for windy and cold weather. Try to stay inside or in a warm place on cold and windy days. If you have to go out, wear warm clothes, including a hat and gloves. A waterproof coat or jacket can help you stay warm if it’s cold and snowy. Wear several layers of loose clothing when it’s cold. The layers will trap warm air between them. Don’t wear tight clothing because it can keep your blood from flowing freely. This can lead to loss of body heat.

Ask your doctor how the medicines you are taking affect body heat. Some medicines used by older people can increase the risk of accidental hypothermia. These include drugs used to treat anxiety, depression or nausea. Some over-the-counter cold remedies also can cause problems.

Make sure you eat enough to keep your weight in a healthy range. If you don’t eat well, you might have too little fat under your skin. Body fat helps you to stay warm.

— Sources: National Institute on Aging; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


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