Hypothermia is when our bodies lose heat faster than we can produce it, causing the body temperature to become dangerously low. Side effects of cancer treatment, such as fatigue, dehydration and aneamia, can make patients more susceptible to hypothermia as they may lose heat faster.
And, Frostbite is a big risk for patients with cancer
Some cancer treatments can cause peripheral neuropathy, which carries numbness in the extremities as a potential side effect. Patients who have peripheral neuropathy are more likely to get frostbite since they can’t feel how cold their fingers and hands are in cold weather. I can verify that, as going outside at the moment leaves me with numb hands and feet.
Patients will have a higher risk of falling
I came across CURE, a well-regarded American medical website, which states “Patients can have a higher risk of fracture if they are receiving treatments that affect bone density. Patients with cancer also need to be especially careful if they have thrombocytopenia, a condition associated with blood cancers that cause low platelet counts. Since platelets help blood clot, a low count can mean that bruising or serious bleeding can happen when injured. Patients who have numbness in their feet are also more prone to falls”.
Higher Risk for Complications with flu
If falls weren’t enough of a worry, CURE says “Cancer therapy may weaken patients’ immune systems. It is necessary that they get their flu shot since they don’t have enough white blood cells to fight infections. This is why patients with cancer have a higher chance of having complications from the flu than a healthy person”.
Tips to Stay Safe – or teaching granny what she should already know
- Stay inside as much as you can when temperatures are freezing or when low temperatures are accompanied by fog, rain or high winds.
- Make sure paths and pavements are always cleared of ice and snow. Get on to your Council if they are icy – after all, you pay your rates for these to be kept safe.
- If you need to go outside, make sure you bundle up in layers. Put on a hat that covers your ears, especially if therapy has caused you to lose your hair. Wear heavy gloves (maybe use silk glove liners – PATRA.com sell these), thick socks and warm boots with good treads.
- Protect your skin. Therapy can make your skin itchy, dry and cracked, especially when the humidity level drops. Use lip balm and moisturizers regularly and avoid long, hot showers and baths. Consider getting a humidifier. See more under the Beauty and Skin Category (panel on right).
- Stay hydrated and drink plenty of non-caffeinated liquids regularly. Don’t forget Bovril, hot Chocolate, 1/2 and 1/2 boiling water and squeezed Orange Juice – or use hot water to make up a fruit squash drink.
Or you could just Hibernate – Bears know a thing or two!