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Cold Stress: Causes And Preventions

Although we may wish for winters to be enchanting, the harsh reality is that the extreme cold can be uncomfortable. This is especially true when we have to go outside and expose ourselves to the freezing temperatures. We may bundle up with thick winter clothing, such as leg warmers and hand and body warmers, but the cold still manages to affect us.

It becomes a bit of a downer for our bodies as it stresses itself out to maintain comfortable body heat inside. This toll on our bodies is the onset of cold stress. If you think you’re dealing with this, here’s all the insightful information on cold stress: its causes and preventions

What Is Cold Stress?

As we mentioned earlier, during the winter, your body is working twice as hard to keep you warm. And to top that, if your body is toiling outdoors for a prolonged period of time, it will be harder to fight the snow and cold air that’s trying to pull heat from your body.

The cool winds can make your body lose its heat more rapidly, causing you to experience cold stress. This is when you’ve pushed your body to its limits and now your skin’s temperature is driven down. Eventually, your internal body temperature also starts to go down while experiencing cold stress.

Causes Of Cold Stress

Whether you’re trekking in the cold, ice skating, skiing, or shoveling snow, your body is going to fight to maintain its normal temperature. So during this time, you’re basically slightly at risk of cold stress. Your clothes will do their best to help maintain body heat, but in extremely cold environments, a lot of cold-related stresses can arise due to

● Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures

● Extremely cool winds

● Wet clothes or skin

● Exertion while working or traveling in cold weather

● Predisposing health problems like high blood pressure, hypertension, or diabetes

● Weak physical health

Types Of Cold Stress

The common types of illness and injuries caused by cold stress are as follows:

Trench Foot

When your feet are wet for too long, it results in a serious condition known as "trench foot." This happens when the blood vessels in your feet are constricted by your body to stop heat loss, and your skin tissues begin to die. The symptoms of trench foot are redness of the skin, swelling, and leg cramps. Bleeding, blisters, and ulcers also happen in extreme cases.


When traveling or working in high altitude areas, frostbite is a risk, particularly in the hands and feet. Cold temperatures can cause the skin to freeze, leading to a loss of feeling and color in the affected area. It's crucial to keep warm by wearing warm clothing or using self-heating body warmers to prevent frostbite.

In the worst cases, frostbite can even lead to permanent amputation. Its symptoms are redness and numbness of the skin and a pale, waxy color on the affected area. That’s why it’s advisable to carry hand and body warmers, especially when you’re traveling to extremely cold destinations. They will help keep your body warm and maintain a comfortable body temperature.


Hypothermia is a condition that occurs due to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. It can happen when you’re drenched in cold rain or sweat. The symptoms of hypothermia are extreme shivering, dilated pupils, clumsiness, fatigue, and unconsciousness.

Prevention Of Cold Stress

1. Wear Appropriate Clothes

One of the easiest and best ways to prevent cold stress is to dress properly. It’s a known fact that cotton loses its insulation when it gets wet. So, wool, silk, or synthetic fabrics are a good choice for you if you’re going to be working or traveling in cold weather. If you’re planning a trip to mountainous regions, you’ll need to wear jackets that keep you warm and toasty.

It is advisable to wear three layers of clothing to protect yourself from the cold temperatures outside. The inner layer of your garment needs to have breathability, like a synthetic weave.

Make sure that the middle layer of your clothing should keep you warm, like wool, as it can keep you insulated even when it gets wet. The outer layer of your clothing can be made of synthetic material, which can protect you from both wind and rain. Don’t forget to wear hats, gloves, and socks, as they can keep you comfortable in chilly weather. You can also keep Warmee hand and body warmers along with you, as they can provide warmth for up to 8 hours. They can be used as bed heaters too.

2. Follow A Buddy-System

Following a buddy-system when you’re working or traveling in chilly weather is a great way to prevent cold stress. It allows both partners to keep an eye on each other. They can look out for cold stress symptoms like excessive shivering or fatigue and then act quick.

Whether you’re a worker or a traveler, you need to have knowledge about cold-induced illnesses. People who experience problems like hypothermia may not be able to recognize their own symptoms. At such times, the people traveling or working with them should be able to notice the symptoms and get to their aid.

3. Schedule Outings During The Warmest Time Of The Day

Along with understanding the symptoms and causes of cold stress, you also need to consider the ideal time to be outside. You can speak to your employers and schedule work during the warmest time of the day. Even when you’re planning an outing like a winter trek, you can choose to schedule it in November or at the end of February. That’s how you can avoid the peak cold season and still enjoy your trip.

See to it that when you’re working or traveling in cold temperatures, you take adequate breaks in a dry and warm place. Before going to work, you can do some warm-up exercises. This will help raise your body’s temperature and increase the circulation of blood flowing toward your muscles.

When it comes to your winter trips, you can help your body acclimatize to cold environments. Before your trip, you can spend some time in the cold weather outdoors to get your body used to the temperature you can spend some time in the cold weather outdoors to get your body used to the temperature. Once your body has acclimatized to the cold, the chances of you developing cold stress are very low.

4. Implement Safe Practices To Stay Warm

It's always good to take precautionary measures to prevent any kind of illness. So, it’s important that you recognize the environmental conditions of your workplace or travel destination. You need to look for weather updates on temperature drops, strong cold winds, and rain/hail alerts as they can be dangerous.

Having warm liquids like hot lemon water and ginger tea can keep you warm when you’re working or traveling in chilly weather. On a particular winter day, when you feel like the weather is not in your favor, you can try to limit your expeditions. So, if you feel like it’s too cold to go on a camping trip or a trek, you can schedule your trip for some other day. In case you’ve already left for your trip or work in winter, you can halt at a warm place and wait for the temperature to get normal.

5. Carry Winter-Appropriate Equipment

Whether you’re going to be working or traveling in cold temperatures, you need to arm yourself with winter-appropriate equipment. We’ve mentioned the importance of wearing the right clothing for cold environments. But along with that, there are several other things you need to carry. For example, radiant or portable heaters are one of those things you need to have in your winter essentials kit. So, when you’re feeling cold at your workstation or camping tent, you can rely on the heater you’ve carried. It can generate heat internally and radiate it to nearby objects. You can carry Warmee bed warmers to stay toasty and have a comfortable sleep.

When spending time in cold environments, it is essential to bring additional items such as a blanket, gloves, socks, and a jacket. Foot warmers, in particular, can be very helpful while hiking, as they keep your feet warm and promote blood flow, which helps maintain overall body warmth. These extra items can be especially useful during extremely cold temperatures. Even if you get wet or begin to shiver, having extra clothing can prevent shivering and keep you warm.

Summing Up

If you’re not precautious enough in winter, you’re putting yourself at risk of getting cold stress. You need to be mindful of your physical body’s composition, metabolism rate, sleep patterns, the kind of clothing you wear, and diet. Taking care of all these things will actually help you be fit and healthy in the winter and make you more aware of the causes and symptoms of cold stress.


What Causes Cold Stress?

Cold winds, dampness, and freezing temperatures are some of the factors that cause cold stress.

How Is Cold Stress Prevented?

The best way to prevent cold stress is to avoid going outside when the temperatures are extremely chilly. Also, wearing appropriate clothing is a must, as it’ll keep you insulated and comfortable. It’s good to wear three layers of clothing in an extremely cold environment.

What Causes Cold Stress In Newborns?

Cold stress can occur in newborns if they aren’t dressed appropriately for the weather. If there’s not enough thermal comfort, then newborns have to use all their little energy to stay warm and can experience cold stress.

Can Cold Damage Nerves?

Prolonged exposure to cold can affect the blood circulation in your body when it’s actually trying to maintain its normal temperatures. This reduced supply of blood to your nerves can damage them.