Cold Injuries


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Abstract

SummaryThere are two categories of cold injury. The first is hypothermia, which is a systemic injury to cold, and the second is frostbite, which is a local injury. Throughout history, entire armies, from George Washington to the Germans on the Russian Front in World War II, have fallen prey to prolonged cold exposure. Cold injury is common and can occur in all seasons if ambient temperature is lower than the core body temperature. In the 1985 Boston Marathon, even though it was 76° and sunny, there were 75 runners treated for hypothermia. In general, humans adapt poorly to cold exposure. Children are at particular risk because of their relatively greater surface area/body mass ratio, causing them to cool even more rapidly than adults. Because of this, the human's best defense against cold injury is to limit his/her exposure to cold and to dress appropriately. If cold injury has occurred and is mild, often simple passive rewarming such as dry blankets and a warm room are sufficient treatment.

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