Doctors warn residents to beware of hypothermia as temperatures -

Doctors warn residents to beware of hypothermia as temperatures drop

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(Credit: KMOV). (Credit: KMOV).

ST. LOUIS ( -- Some days, for electrician Brandon Brough, staying inside is not an option.

"We sell electric meters for houses. It's door-to-door. It's 7 a.m. Until about 5 in the afternoon," he said. "It takes, not a lot of time for our fingers and toes to get cold. We have to go, we have to plan ahead and it can be miserable."

As the temperatures drop throughout the Midwest, people like Brough are forced out into it. Mercy Hospital emergency room doctor John Fortney warns, with more cold weather headed our way, people across the bi-state should watch out frostbite and hypothermia.

He says one symptom is confusion.

"When they [people] become confused, their body's vital mechanism starts to shutdown and conserve heat. In that case, confusion becomes worse, their heart rates slows down and they can actually collapse and become unresponsive," he explained.

The best advice Dr. Fortney recommends is spending the least amount of time outdoors as possible during a cold snap and piling on layers if you must go out. But, he reminds everyone to use common sense.

"There is no hard and fast rule because everyone is different given their age, the medications they are on, alcohol intake, size, how they are dressing and what they've been doing outside," he said.  

Dr. Fortney said the really young and really old are the most vulnerable to cold exposure because they lose heat more quickly.

One thing you should keep an eye out for, he says, is alcohol consumption, which has a tendency to make you feel warmer and dehydrates you.

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