Hypothermia, frostbite being treated as brutal cold settles in

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 6, 2014)– Hoosiers across the state are reporting health issues due to the cold, and some are arriving at hospitals with cases of hypothermia and frostbite.

So far, Community North has seen two hypothermia cases. Community South has seen one frostbite case.

Eskenazi Hospital has seen 5-10 hypothermia cases.

St. Vincent has seen 1 frostbite case, and IU Health says 10% of all their ER visits have been due to frostbite or hypothermia.

The Emergency Department at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health hasn’t seen a lot of weather-related cases today, but they are seeing several patients with issues related to the flu and respiratory viruses.

Physicians at IU Health Methodist Hospital and Riley Hospital for Children offer the following tips:

  • Don’t let the sunlight fool you. At these chilly temps, frostbite can happen in 5-10 minutes. Stay indoors if you can and only go out for emergencies. If you must go out, make sure to wear layers and cover all exposed skin.
  • It may look neat outside with all that snow, but the safest place to be on days like today is indoors. If kids do go outside, bundle up their exposed skin and keep a close eye on them. It only takes a few minutes for frostbite to set in. Young children also lose their body heat more quickly than do adults (since their heads are proportionally much bigger than are adults). Make sure they wear a hat or two.
  • Young kids may not always be able to communicate that something is wrong. Pay close attention to any indicators of pain—a sign of trouble.
  • If an adult or child continues to experience skin pain once indoors and blood flow to the affected area doesn’t appear to be returning to normal (i.e. pinkness), a trip to the emergency room may be necessary.
  • One of the biggest culprits of winter Emergency Department visits: sledding/snow tubing accidents. We see lots of limb and facial fractures, caused by running into objects, such as trees—or from adults falling on children when sharing a sled/tube and going airborne.