Robert R. Cawley, D.O.
Dover, NH 03802
Staying healthy and safe in the winter requires some extra care.
“The main concern for most of us is falls, particularly for older adults,” says Dr. Brian Collins, Medical Director, Wentworth Health Partners Prompt Care, a walk-in care center with locations in Portsmouth and Dover. “That means doing what we can to make sure sidewalks and stairs around our home are kept as clear as possible from ice and snow.”
Older people especially are prone to more serious injuries from falls, like broken hips. If possible, they should stay indoors during very inclement weather and ask someone to spread salt or sand on icy surfaces used to access their home.
No matter how old you are, though, whenever you do go out in snowy or icy weather, be sure to wear boots with good traction.
Shoveling is something that has to be done if you’re living through a New England winter, but for some people it can be a hazard of the season. If you are older or out of shape, it’s best to get someone else to do your shoveling, if possible, Dr. Collins says.
“There are a significant number of people who still shovel their walkways or driveways,” he says. “You do have to use due caution to stay safe though.”
If you are going to shovel, Dr. Collins advises:
Start by making sure to warm up your muscles first.
Use a smaller shovel or scoop up smaller amounts of snow, to take it easier on your back and your heart.
Bring your cell phone any time you go outside so you have something to use to call for help should you need it.
“Shoveling is not good exercise,” Dr. Collins cautions. “It is very strenuous. It can boost your blood pressure up significantly and quickly, causing strokes and heart attacks. If you want to get exercise in the winter, there are many better options.”
Certainly New Englanders who want to spend time outdoors in the winter do have many good options for getting exercise.
Walking with the proper footwear, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and ice skating all are good ways to get aerobic exercise.
Just remember to warm up before any exercise, Dr. Collins says.
And no matter what you are choosing to do, always dress in layers - as temperatures can sometimes change quickly in this region - and exercising will cause you to warm up.
Make sure you also have adequate coverage of your face, hands and feet if the temperatures are low to avoid the potential of frostbite.
Another common sense tip is to always let someone know where you’re going to be, Dr. Collins says.
Whether having fun or doing chores, some of us are bound to get injured or have health problems.
If you are shoveling or exerting yourself and you experience unexpected sweatiness, unexplained nausea, shortness of breath or chest pain, stop what you’re doing, Dr. Collins says. Move carefully to a warmer area and if someone is nearby, ask them to call 911 for you.
For injuries from more minor slips on the ice to minor illnesses, call your doctor or visit a local Prompt Care or Immediate Care.
Winter can, and should, be fun, especially when taking the precautions necessary to keep yourself safer and healthier.
Should you need immeduate medical care, Prompt Care offers expert walk-in care for your minor illness or injury right away with two convenient locations. Prompt Care at Pease offers walk-in care to anyone Monday-Friday 7am-7pm (located at Wentworth-Douglass at Pease, 73 Corporate Drive on the Pease Tradeport), and Prompt Care in Dover offers walk-in care for patients of Wentworth Health Partners practices 7 days a week (located at the Wentworth-Douglass Professional Building at 10 Members Way).
Visit wentworthhealthpartners.com for more information and to book the next available time at Prompt Care.