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Michael A. Stroud

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date: 25 February 2021

Humans are poorly adapted to cold, which can cause hypothermia, non-freezing cold injury, and frostbite. Hypothermia occurs especially with wind and wetting, and is seen indoors in older people and those who are thin. Non-freezing cold injury occurs when skin temperatures below 12°C are maintained for prolonged periods, particularly in water. This causes paralysis of nerve and muscle, which can be permanent (e.g. trench foot). Meanwhile, with frostbite the frozen tissues initially appear hard, white, and anaesthetic, but with rewarming become swollen, painful, and blistered. There may be irreversible necrosis, but initial appearances can be misleading and hence early amputation should be avoided. Once thawed, frostbite treatment is similar to that for burns.

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