Think this winter has been tough? It’s been even more brutal for those coping with cancer. People in cancer treatment face special sensitivities and challenges when the temperatures drop.
For cancer patients, extremely cold weather and slippery streets are more than a hazard; they’re a health risk.
Hypothermia is a condition where your body begins to lose heat faster than it can produce heat, causing your temperature to become dangerously low. Side effects of treatment, such as dehydration, fatigue and anemia, can make you more susceptible to hypothermia, as can certain chemotherapy medications.
Treatment can also cause peripheral neuropathy, decreasing sensation in your hands and feet and making you less sensitive to the cold. Because you’re less aware of low temperatures, you’re at higher risk of frostbite, a serious injury where the skin and underlying tissue can freeze within minutes. What’s more, the pain that accompanies neuropathy may be intensified when it’s cold.
Because neuropathy causes numbness in your appendages, you’re more likely to take a tumble on the snow and ice. You may be at higher risk of fracture due to treatments that affect bone density. Be especially careful if you have thrombocytopenia, a condition associated with cancers of the blood that causes low platelet counts. Platelets help blood clot; a low count can lead to bruising or serious bleeding when injuries happen.
Follow these tips to protect your health and conserve your energy:
Winter can’t last forever, even if it sometimes seems that way. Celebrate each sunny day and count the days till spring!