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The_Inquisitor's avatar

Does staying out in the cold too long have any problematic health factors?

Asked by The_Inquisitor (3158points) February 22nd, 2010

Well, today I’ve been out walking around all day long. It was snowy and cold out. My fingers turned all pink and my legs felt all numb, and my cheeks felt all stiff and red. (I forgot to bring good winter attire). Will that do me any bad now or in the future?

I worry that my skin may be ‘hurt’, from being out in the cold for too long. Will my hands be okay, from having no feeling to them, and being all pink? What about my legs? They were numb and my knees and hips kind of hurt for unknown reasons.

Does being out in the cold for a couple of hours at a time have any bad factors that I should worry about? If so, I’ll try to avoid walking out in the cold. It was only -9 out, but it was really cold after being in for a long time, also the wind chill contributed to the cold. (I’m not sure what the wind chill was)

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13 Answers

lilikoi's avatar

You will be fine. Just wear proper attire next time.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

Well, in extreme cases – hypothermia. More commonly, you could experience frostbite, especially in your fingers, toes, and other extremities. Make sure you bundle up, especially if it is below zero. Wind chill can have a big affect too, be mindful of it.

majorrich's avatar

My doctor told me being out in the cold may have triggered my Bells Palsey, but there is no testing to prove that for sure. If you dress for the weather you’ll be OK. Wind chill can really sneak up and get you. Even in relatively warm weather, you can succumb to hypothermia.

faye's avatar

were you raised in cotton wool? Do you think about Canadians who work out doors all winter in -20C or skiers, or a thousand people outside in cold from 2 mos old??

JLeslie's avatar

As long as you didn’t get frost bite, which it does not sound like you did, then you will be fine. I don’t think it is good for you, but I doubt you will have any lasting affects, especially from just one incedent. When you live up north most children stay out in the cold too long all of the time. They don’t want to stop playing outside, or wait a long time for a school bus.

ChocolateReigns's avatar

My brother never wore gloves when he was little (We were all born and raised in good ol’ Minnesota), and now that he has a job going house to house being a salesman in St. Paul, he has to wear two layers of gloves to keep his hands warm. They’re seriously messed up, but he can’t figure out what it is. It’s a hassle to have to take both layers of gloves off to write when he gets a lead.

Moral of the story: Wear your gloves!

The_Inquisitor's avatar

@faye, well, which is why I was wondering if cold weather had any impact. Using me as an example, I didn’t only mean that I was the only one out in the cold. I also don’t compare it to how much colder it could’ve been, or how worse off it could be for other people. I live in Canada, I’ve been through below 50 weather, and there have been many days where I’m out in the cold all day long. I know people who also work outside everyday in the cold. My question was “does staying in the cold for too long have any problematic health factors?” I’ve been through this cold, and much worse for a long time now, and just today I wondered if it could have any side effects. Can’t I worry about myself and also find out what’s good and what’s bad? And I’d be happy to be raised in cotton wool! I don’t understand you. I’m not sure what you intended to sound like when you commented, but you made me frustrated and upset. =\

Thanks to everyone else though.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Aside, from hypothermia and frostbite, no.
If you’re out in the cold, you’re not going to get a cold because the common cold is caused by a virus.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Unless a person has problems like asthma that is triggered by exposure to cold dry air, exposure to cold such as you described, even with your inadequate wardrobe on this occasion in unlikely to cause you any lasting harm.

Properly insulated from the cold, a person can safely cope with more extreme temperatures and wind chills. Protecting exposed skin is critical and drinking enough fluids lost through respiration and perspiration is also important. Consuming sufficient calories to generate heat is also required.

People who live in places like Winnipeg, Manitoba or For McMurray, Alberta, deal with extreme weather for weeks or months at a time in the winter.

Failing to take the sensible precautions I describes can lead to anything from great discomfort to frostbite and in extremes loss of limbs or even death from exposure.

Good sense and proper preparation are not optional in the extreme cold.

faye's avatar

@curiouscat I guess I don’t want anyone upset by what I say but I just reread your question and your profile and I’m kind of stunned again. Every Canadian and northern US person is cold 4 months of the year. You’ve seen robust old people, I know you have.

mattbrowne's avatar

Does walking around the lunar surface too long have any problematic health factors? Not if you got the right space suit.

The_Inquisitor's avatar

@faye, I believe I just misunderstood.

citygrlincountry's avatar

I recently read something (and if I could remember where, I would tell you!) that there is some negative impact on your immune system if you are not accustomed to the extreme cold and then experience it—that may be more of an issue if you were having a more prolongued exposure to this type of cold. If I am remembering correctly, your body is expending energy trying to keep warm that it would normally use to fend off the bugs. So watch out the next time and be prepared—much easier to take off a layer if you are too warm than to have a problem because you don’t have enough to wear.

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