Minutes in this bitter cold still needs proper layering, doctors - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Minutes in this bitter cold still needs proper layering, doctors warn

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

We've all done it on a frigidly cold day before. A quick run into the store without our jacket, pumping gas without a pair of gloves, or walking into the gym with just a sweatshirt and shorts. After all, why bother putting on some long pants when we'll just be shredding them as soon as we step inside?

Dr. Joseph Schmidt, chief of emergency medicine at Baystate Medical Center, warns that even a few minutes in this bitter cold weather without proper layers can be subtly harmful to your health, as it can make you a little more vulnerable to catching an illness.

"Cold can create a stress on the immune system," said Schmidt. "Just like if you're not eating enough or sleeping enough, if you put a stress on your immune system, it can make it that much more difficult to fight off those diseases."

Cold weather does not cause the common cold, nor does it put you at a higher risk for flu, said Schmidt.

For those who do take the time to throw on an extra layer or two, often the most important aspect of bundling up goes overlooked. Even if stepping out for a few moments, protecting the head is just as important as grabbing that big heavy winter coat.

"A large portion of our blood flow goes to our brain and to our head, so it is an area where we lose a lot of our body heat." said Schmidt. "If it's this cold, make sure you include in your ‘bundled up' a hat, protect your ears and those kinds of exposed areas."

And don't forget about the kids. An adult can tolerate a brief chill while waiting for the car to warm up, but a child must already be well-layered before leaving out the front door.

"Small children have a much harder time regulating their body temperature, so yes be extra careful," said Schmidt.

He added that on a longer car trip, it's also important for those layers to be readily removable. When the car finally warms up, it is important to remove any unnecessary layers to maintain a normal body temperature.

Copyright 2013 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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