February 5, 2023

Britain’s deep freeze saw temperatures drop to -6C (21F) overnight as snow and ice wreaked havoc on travel for millions of travellers.

However, the icy grip of winter is not over yet.

Forecasters have told some regions to prepare for the mercury to drop to minus 11C during the four-day cold snap, which is expected to end on Friday.

But in addition to warnings of train cancellations, road closures and power cuts, the blistering cold gripping the UK could also harm your health. MailOnline delves into the risks and the reasons.

Temperatures Dipped As Low As -5C And -6C Overnight, And Some Places Woke Up To Heavy Snow Today.  Pictured: Stoke-On-Trent

Temperatures dipped as low as -5C and -6C overnight, and some places woke up to heavy snow today. Pictured: Stoke-on-Trent

Brits warned of health risk amid Big Freeze

Britons have been urged to keep warm this week as temperatures are expected to drop as low as -11°C (12.2°F).

The UK Health Security Agency has warned that England will experience freezing weather from 9am on Monday 16th January to 9am on Friday 20th January.

Dr Agostinho Sousa, head of extreme events and health protection at UKHSA, said: “Cold weather can have a serious impact on health, particularly in older people and those with pre-existing health conditions, as it increases the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections.

“During this period, it is important to check on family, friends and relatives who may be more vulnerable to cold weather.

“If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over the age of 65, it’s important to try to heat your home to at least 18C if you can.”

The agency pointed out to Britons its cold weather plan, which recommends having regular contact with vulnerable people.

He also urges people to keep an eye on the weather forecast and make sure they are well-stocked with food and medicine.

The public should also take the weather into account when planning activities over the next few days, according to the guide.

Increased risk of stroke and heart attack

Worryingly, studies show that heart attacks and strokes are up to twice as likely to occur during cold spells that last four days or more.

This is because blood vessels in the skin, fingers, and toes narrow in response to cold as the body tries to conserve heat.

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This process, called vasoconstriction, increases blood pressure and heart rate as the heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout the body.

At the same time, the blood becomes thicker and stickier in response to lower temperatures. This is because the body produces more platelets (blood cells that form clots to stop bleeding) in response to cold, increasing the risk of clotting.

While these are the body’s normal response to cold weather and an attempt to protect vital organs and keep internal temperatures at 37°C, it can increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks, especially among people with heart conditions.

The British Heart Foundation recommends staying warm by wearing plenty of layers when outside and minimizing time spent outdoors in very cold weather.

Immune system

Seasonal viruses, like the flu and RSV, emerge in the winter.

This is, in part, because people spend more time socializing indoors and in poorly ventilated spaces.

This makes it more likely that an infected person will spread the virus to others.

But also behind the annual increase in insects is cold weather, which suppresses the immune system, increasing the risk of infection and making it harder for the body to fight disease, experts say.

This can cause coughs and usually mild lung conditions to become more severe than they would be during the warmer months.

Studies suggest that the immune system is hampered during the depths of winter because cold air kills billions of virus- and bacteria-fighting cells in the nose, the main entry point for insects.

Some scientists say that keeping your nose warm, even by wrapping a scarf around your face, could counteract this decline in immunity.

Other research points to cold, dry air to lower immunity, as it can reduce the amount of mucus in the nose and throat that can usually trap and expel viruses.

The Met Office Has Issued Yellow Weather Alerts For Much Of The Country This Morning

The Met Office has issued yellow weather alerts for much of the country this morning

1674025304 188 Winters Icy Chokehold On Britain Commuters Face More Travel Chaos

Respiratory problems

Many will be in for a blast of cold air when they head outside this week.

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But the frigid air can be dangerous for people with respiratory conditions, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

This is because when cold air is inhaled, the airways narrow and the lungs contract.

This can trigger breathing difficulties, wheezing and coughing, as well as asthma attacks.

Health chiefs advise people at risk to wear a tissue around their nose and mouth to limit airway irritation and asthma attacks.

In addition to cold conditions outdoors, cold, wet weather can increase the risk of mold and damp growing inside homes and buildings, which can also irritate the lungs.

In turn, experts say this can increase the risk of respiratory infections and damage lung function over time.

worsening of arthritis

Around 10 million Britons and 60 million Americans have arthritis, a condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints.

And up to nine in 10 say that pain, tenderness, and stiffness in the hands, knees, and hips are made worse by cold weather.

This is because cold weather reduces the temperature of the joints, making them stiffer, studies suggest.

Dropping temperatures also increase sensitivity to pain and can cause muscle spasms, further worsening arthritis symptoms, experts say.

In addition to the above, cold weather causes a drop in barometric pressure, the amount of pressure in the atmosphere, which causes muscles and tendons to expand and, in turn, puts more stress on joints, they show. the studies.

Versus Arthritis recommends staying warm by wearing gloves and a hat, and keeping homes warm to at least 18C (64.4F).

Snow And Ice On The Roads Once Again This Morning Is Expected To Cause Further Disruption To Travel.

Snow and ice on the roads once again this morning is expected to cause further disruption to travel.

A Woman Walks Her Dog Across A Freezing Wimbledon Common.  Forecasters Have Warned That There Will Be More Freezing Weather Throughout The Week.

A woman walks her dog across a freezing Wimbledon Common. Forecasters have warned that there will be more freezing weather throughout the week.

Freezing Weather Around Peckham Rye Park & ​​Common In London This Morning, With Temperatures Around -1C (33.8F)

Freezing weather around Peckham Rye Park & ​​Common in London this morning, with temperatures around -1C (33.8F)

Stoke-On-Trent Turned A Completely White City When Snow Fell Overnight From Tuesday 17Th To Wednesday 18Th January

Stoke-on-Trent turned a completely white city when snow fell overnight from Tuesday 17th to Wednesday 18th January

Depression and anxiety

January 16 was marketed as the most depressing day of 2023.

The date is believed to be when most abandon their New Year’s resolutions, motivation is low, and the festive period is over.

But while the jury is out on whether there really is a ‘Blue Monday’, scientists agree that depression and anxiety are more prevalent when it’s cold.

The UKHSA warns that mental health illnesses, such as depression, are a spillover effect of the cold.

Mental health charity Mind warns that some people feel “particularly uncomfortable” in colder temperatures, which could contribute to developing depression or worsen existing depression.

The link between mental health and the cold is not fully understood.

But experts believe it is partly due to reduced exposure to sunlight, as the days are dimmer and shorter.

accidents

It could be the most obvious side effect of cold weather.

But snow and ice are truly one of the most dangerous aspects of winter for health.

Slippery paths and paths, combined with fewer daylight hours, can lead to injuries to pedestrians.

Yesterday morning, when temperatures were below freezing in Somerset, a bus carrying 70 people overturned on an icy road.

The NHS says that for every degree the temperature drops below 5C (41F), there is a one per cent increase in emergency admissions, largely due to injuries and broken bones from falls.

He advises that people only venture out in bad weather if their trip is absolutely necessary and that they bundle up when outside.

Dr Agostinho Sousa, head of extreme events and health protection at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Cold weather can have a serious impact on health, particularly in older people and those with pre-existing health conditions, as it increases the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections.

“During this period, it is important to check on family, friends and relatives who may be more vulnerable to cold weather.

“If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over the age of 65, it’s important to try to heat your home to at least 18C if you can.”