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Pay Attention To Your Body's Response To Weather

By Rachel Slavik, WCCO-TV

-- The bitter cold can take a toll on your body, so it's good to know the body's warning signs that let you know it's time to get inside and warm up.

On what may be the coldest day of the year, Sarah Panus never expected to be bundled up inside her home. A broken furnace dropped the indoor temperature to a chilly 49 degrees. When she started to shiver, she went straight for the coat, scarf and hat.

"Between all these, I was OK and I had my hot tea to keep my hands warm," said Panus.

She took action on one of the first warning signs the body sends for hypothermia.

"The shivering is an attempt to get the muscles to cause more heat to bring the temperature back up," said Dr. Joseph Clinton of HCMC.

In the bitter cold, Clinton said your heart rate will also speed up, as well as your breathing.

"All these mechanisms go on to maintain heart and brain in functioning capacity," he said.

He said when your thinking gets cloudy and the hearts begins to slow, hypothermia is not far away.

"The problem with hypothermia is that patients that are becoming hypothermic may not realize it," he said.

The body also sends warning signs for frostbite.

"Initially, the reason you get flushed is increased blood supply to warm the skin and keep it warm," said Clinton.

Americo Veloz ignored those signs three weeks ago and wound up in the hospital as a frostbite patient.

"When I got the hospital, all the nurses and doctors said I was going to lose my toes," said Veloz.

Clinton says that certain medications make people more susceptible to frostbite. Those prescriptions include certain tranquilizers and anti-depressants.

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