New Castle News

November 21, 2013

Lori Brothers: Bundle up! The cold can impact your health

Lori Brothers
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — In order to cope with the winter cold weather, I’ve developed a habit of layering my clothing.

I used to have the traditional winter coat, thick, heavy and warm. We all have the image in our heads of the little brother in “A Christmas Story,” all bundled up in the snow suit of the 1960s. I grew up during that era and had just such a suit as a kid. Probably many of you wore a snow suit — and many of your children.

I find wearing a heavier coat while I’m driving is uncomfortable. So a light-weight coat with a layered outfit underneath gives me all of the insulation while still allowing me to move.

It’s good to be cautious when it comes to your health during the cold snaps. Even though I don’t like bulky winter coats, I make sure I’m dressed warm. Cold weather can increase your blood pressure if you are exposed without enough protection.

Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, it can be elevated when you are exposed to cold temperatures. The cardiovascular system becomes stressed due to physiological reactions to cold. When you’re cold, the body sends blood away from the skin and muscles, and toward the organs to conserve heat. If you do have high blood pressure, you should make especially sure you are prepared to combat the cold with the proper winter gear. Hats, coats, gloves, scarves, boots are a must.

If you have arthritis, the cold can intensify the awareness of inflammation in the joints because of the air pressure changes that come with cold weather.  The National Institute of Health suggests these tips for arthritis patients: bundle up when going outside, pre-heat your car, sleep under an electric blanket, warm your clothing in the dryer before dressing (this is one I haven’t heard before), and drink warm or hot drinks.

Also remember to keep moving. For managing arthritis, regular exercise during winter months with keep joints more flexible, and also keep weight-gain to a minimum which will help you to be kinder to your joints.

If you are plagued by coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath during the winter, you may need to be tested for asthma.

Good advice from is to remember to try to breathe through your nose as much as possible when exercising or exerting yourself outside if you have asthma. Nostril breathing warms the air before moving it into the lungs, which may be inflamed due to outdoor cold air, and indoor dust and mold. Also, controlling the temperature of inhaled air through a cold-weather mask or scarf greatly reduces the incidence of exercise-induced asthma while walking outside in the cold.

“Asthma ranks among the most common chronic conditions in the country, affecting an estimated 14.9 million people. And a growing portion of our population suffers from asthma,” shares Michelle Lum, director of respiratory services at Jameson Hospital.

“There are people who are living with uncontrolled asthma, and oftentimes they don’t realize that there are resources available to live better – different medications, new treatments and rehabilitation. We look forward to building that awareness,” Lum says, referring to Jameson Hospital’s Asthma Center, a new specialty care clinic associated with the Jameson Lung Center.

Jameson Asthma Care will provide diagnostic testing to determine the level and severity of the asthma as well as provide educational resources and workshops by trained asthma educators and respiratory therapists. The next open house will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 6.

So bundle up and make sure you get support for yourself if you have cold-weather symptoms that become challenging when the days grow shorter, cold and dark. In just a few months we can look forward to the warm relief of spring.

In the meantime, we have the holidays to cheer us.

Low Fat Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl mix sugars, margarine, apple sauce, vanilla and egg whites. Stir in flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, and cinnamon. Stir into the creamed mixture. Add the mashed bananas, rolled oats and chocolate chips, and salt mix until well blended.

Drop dough by using a rounded teaspoon about 2 inches apart on an un-greased cookie sheet (You can also use an air bake cookie sheet with parchment paper.) Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.