As we move into chillier winter months, it’s important for people with SCI to keep an eye on their body’s temperature control.
When it gets bitterly cold in the winter, even the trip from house to car and car to office can get you shivering. For people with spinal-cord injury (SCI) that chill can be even worse.
When our body temperature strays from the regular 98.6 and gets too hot or too cold, the brain sends a message through the spinal cord to help correct it. If you are too hot, your body will sweat, if you are too cold, your blood vessels constrict. However, when you can’t feel the sensation of hot or cold in your whole body, the signals don’t always get sent and cause overheating (hyperthermia) or overcooling (hypothermia).
While it may seem basic, the best way to prevent major body temperature changes is to avoid the extreme hot or cold. If you have to go out in the cold, wear a lot of layers and make sure your skin is covered, especially on your hands and feet. If it’s hot, stay out of the sun and drink a lot of water.
Symptoms & Treatment
Since it can be difficult to tell when your body is getting too hot or cold, watching out for this symptoms may be your best bet in preventing reaching a point of hyper or hypothermia:
-Red face and neck
If you do get any of these symptoms, get to a climate controlled area where you can cool off. If you are too hot, shed layers, drink lots of water, dampen skin and sit near a fan. If you are too cold, add layers or lie close to someone to allow body heat to transfer.