Doctors share advice for battling cold snap

Tips for how to stay warm, healthy as temperatures drop

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Temperatures are plummeting Wednesday night and Northeast Florida will be in a freeze warning from 1 to 9 a.m. Thursday.

That means it's important for parents to be sure their kids have everything they need to fight the cold when they head to school in freezing temperatures in the morning.

Dr. Katherine Byra from Angel Kids Pediatrics said parents can do a few small things to protect their children from the cold and prevent a bigger immune system problem. And it's about more than just putting on a jacket.

Layering is a good trick, but Byra said not all parents are bundling their kids like they should.

"I'm seeing a bunch of them at the bus stop in flip-flops and tank tops and a little light sweater," Byra said. "So we definitely recommend with these low temperatures that we make sure kids are bundled up, especially layering because they're going to go to the classroom and they're going to get hot, and they can take layers off."

But Byra said layering isn't the only thing a body needs.

"Another important thing is making sure they get a nice warm breakfast in the morning so we have that nutrition," Byra said. "With the cold weather, it's stress on your system."

With the stresses on the immune system and children encountering germs at school, they're more susceptible to getting sick.

Byra said she's seeing a lot of flu cases -- and she pointed out it's not too late for a flu vaccination for parents or their kids.

But it's not just children who need to be prepared when temperatures get low.

Dr. Vandana Bhide of the Mayo Clinic said people who suffer from heart and lung problems, like asthma or COPD, should also be on their guard because harsh cold can trigger symptoms.

"I have lots and lots of patients who say they know exactly when the weather is going to change. What the pressure is. They can feel their sinuses; they can feel their allergies; they can feel their asthma acts up," Bhide said. "In this state, we're not used to this cold weather. So we're often unprepared."

That's why it's important to have an inhaler on hand and medicines ready to go.

Bhide also said it's important for people to protect their feet, neck and head -- areas most prone to hypothermia.

"Hypothermia can be really tricky," Bhide said. "Sometimes people don't know when they get it. Sometimes it's just a slight tingling in their fingers or toes or their ears. But they can really get significant frostbite."

Bhide recommended staying indoors as much as possible during the freeze. She said if someone feels like they are at risk for hypothermia, they should go the emergency room as soon as possible for treatment. 

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