Open Thread - Thurs 07 Dec 2023 - Cold or Hot?
Do You Like It Cold or Hot?
I recently read an article about a study which examines what happens to the human body in the cold. Not extreme cold, like in the Arctic, but unheated room in the winter cold in a temperate climate, like 50 F (10 C). This is, according to the article, the average temperature that people will be living in winter (in Great Britain) if they can't afford to heat their homes.
Cold, so wrap up in some blankets! From here.
The study takes a room from 70 F (about 21 C) down to 50 F. A volunteer sits in the room, almost naked, with all kinds of measuring devices attached to them and gets cold as the room gets cold.
Things in the body change as the body struggles to maintain a normal core temperature as the ambient temperature lowers. Blood flow to the brain falls, rate of breathing increases, the temperatures of the body's extremities, like arms and legs, fall, and blood pressure and heart rate go up. It takes longer to complete cognition puzzles, showing that one doesn't think as easily when one is 'cold' as when one is at 70 F or so. Fingers turn white and hands and feet feel cold, which is strangely, like what happens in a heat wave too (see below). Of course, one starts to shiver to keep warm. And, the body burns more carbs as it tries to keep its core temperature normal. Increased blood pressure from the cold is a risk for stroke and heart attack. Cold weather also makes respiratory infections more likely, like flu and so on.
When the body gets overheated, as in during a heat wave, changes also happen as the body struggles to keep a normal core temperature of 98F (37C or so). Blood pressure falls, and the heart beats faster to try to keep everything in the body supplied with the thinner, lower pressure, blood. Sweating starts, which doesn't happen in the cold of course, to cool the skin. Rashes can happen. Blood flow to the brain isn't normal and heat exhaustion can occur with symptoms like dizziness, nausea, fainting, muscle cramps, headaches, heavy sweating, tiredness, and cold, pale and clammy skin. If blood pressure drops too far, heart attacks can happen, as they do when the body gets too cold and blood pressure goes up.
Too hot, too hot, too hot... from here.
Low temperature causes more deaths in temperate areas like Great Britain, than high temperature. That's surprising to me because I'd much rather have low temperatures in my house than high temperatures. Of course I live in an area where temperatures rarely get as low as 10 F, or as high as 100 F... so far. I have nothing mechanical to help cool my house, just windows and the shade of trees outside and so on. I've no air conditioners, but do use fans. On the other hand, we don't heat our house much with heaters (here's a kinda fun article with some suggestions on how to deal with a cold house) . Each room has its own baseboard heaters and thermostat. And those are basically set to 55 F (about 13 C). They seldom, if ever, come on - only on the coldest nights. We use our woodstove to heat the house, and at night, after we go to bed, the house gets down to around 60 F (15 C). And I love that.
I believe it's easier to keep warm by wearing more clothes, sleeping under heavier covers (which I really, really, love to do), keeping close to the computer (gives off warmth, did you know that?) having a dog and some cats around, etc. Anyways, it's easier to keep warm that way, than to try to cool off if the temperature is too hot. The only way to cool off for me is to take off clothes, get in water (if it's not too warm itself), sit in shade, drink cool drinks (assuming you have the power to cool them down), turn on air conditioning if you have it, turn on fans if you have them, and so on. This is much harder and much less successful for changing my body temperature, for me, than getting warm. So, I'd rather it be cold than hot!
What do you like? Hot, or Cold? And thanks for reading and here's the open thread - and remember, everything is interesting if you dive deep enough, so tell us about where you're diving!