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Current Affairs

Alcohol and cold

Date: 28 December 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The IMD has urged residents of India’s northernmost states to protect themselves from the biting cold by avoiding alcohol.

 

Background

Severe cold wave conditions are likely in parts of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan from December 29 onwards. 

 

Details

  • The weather conditions were likely to increase the risk of contracting illnesses like the flu, and could also lead to symptoms like runny/stuffy nose and nosebleeds, which usually set in or are aggravated due to prolonged exposure to the cold.

  • The weather department also warned of frostbite, a condition where the skin turns pale, hard and numb and is eventually left with black blisters when exposed to extreme cold conditions.

  • The IMD also recommended reduced consumption of alcohol as it can reduce body temperature and further aggravate cold.

Consumption of alcohol

  • While alcohol may make feel warmer, it actually reduces body temperature and compromises immunity if you then venture out into the cold.

  • Alcohol can decrease the core temperature of the body and increase the risk of hypothermia during cold exposure.

  • Heavy alcohol consumption is often linked to an increased risk of hypothermia and other conditions linked to extreme cold weather.

  • Alcohol has psychological and behavioural effects, which can impact a person’s ability to correctly perceive how cold it is.

  • Hence, cases of people succumbing to hypothermia after drinking heavily and passing out outdoors are very commonly reported in places with extreme cold weather.

Cold wave

A cold wave occurs when the minimum temperature dips to 10 degrees Celsius or less and the departure from normal temperature is 4.5 degrees Celsius or lower. In severe cold wave conditions, departure from normal temperature is 6.5 degrees or lower

Hypothermia

  • Hypothermia is a severe medical condition where the body loses heat before it can generate, resulting in a dangerously low body temperature.

  • While normal body temperature lies at around 37 degrees Celsius, the body temperature of a person suffering from hypothermia drops to below 35 degrees Celsius. Common signs include shivering, slow rate of breathing, slurred speech, cold skin and fatigue.