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- Babies, children, pregnant women, and the elderly are more prone to overheating. Be sure to keep an eye on at-risk members of your family, coworkers, and neighbors.
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- If you experience high fever, confusion, nausea or vomiting, rapid pulse or breathing, headache, or fainting, get emergency medical treatment. These are all signs of heatstroke.
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How does it happen and what are the cold water shock symptoms?
Cold water shock causes the blood vessels in the skin to close, which increases the resistance of blood flow. Heart rate is also increased. As a result the heart has to work harder and your blood pressure goes up. Cold water shock can therefore cause heart attacks, even in the relatively young and healthy.
The sudden cooling of the skin by cold water also causes an involuntary gasp for breath. Breathing rates can change uncontrollably, sometimes increasing as much as tenfold. All these responses contribute to a feeling of panic, increasing the chance of inhaling water directly into the lungs.
This can all happen very quickly: it only takes half a pint of sea water to enter the lungs for a fully grown man to start drowning. You could die if you don’t get medical care immediately.
Health and raw food diet pioneer Dr. Paul Bragg swore by his daily cold showers and regularly joined the Polar Bear Club for dips in the ice-cold ocean. Incidentally, you’ll find similar clubs in Finland, China and Russia (where they like to be called walruses instead of polar bears!)
Joe Rollino, known as the strongest man who ever lived in the 1920’s, was active in the Iceberg Athletic club and practiced what was referred to as “winter bathing,” swimming in the cold ocean three or four times a week. Rollino lived to 104 and would probably have lived much longer had he not been struck by a car. He winter-bathed, he said, for nine years without missing a single day. Rollino attributed his enduring good health in part to this habit. Members of this club, who all state they have not been sick since taking up the practice, believe the cold water kills germs within the body after 5 to 10 minutes of exposure. One Staten Island resident says, “When you come out of the water and put your sweatshirt back on, you feel like you’re ten years old again.”
Caution … do not run out and immediately start jumping into ice-cold rivers and ponds, especially if you have any underlying health conditions. Doing so could lead, in extreme cases, to a potentially fatal condition known as cold shock response. That name says it all! I suggest, going gradually with “contrast” showers.
Try it Together with Bikram Yoga
Get into Bikram yoga, too. Aside from the wonderfully invigorating benefits of hot yoga, another plus is that, for at least 90 minutes, you will definitely feel warm. Following your hot yoga session with some cold-water hydrotherapy may give you the best of both worlds. In my earlier blog article, The Raw Food Diet in Winter, you’ll also find some handy tips for feeling warmer while your thermoregulation is getting an overhaul.