Effects of Cold. Frost Bite.
COLD is a relative term. The same temperature may be called hot or cold, according as it is compared with a hotter or colder temperature. If we warm one hand by a fire, while we lay the other upon ice, and then plunge them both into cold water, the water will feel cold to the one which has been by the fire, and warm to the one taken from the ice.
The warmth of the body being ninety eight degrees, any temperature below this may be said, in a certain sense, to be cold. Yet a temperature much lower than this, namely, from sixty to seventy, is the most agreeable and invigorating, because it takes away the heat just about as fast as it is produced in a healthy body.
The first effect of cold applied to the body is to weaken the circulation in the small blood vessels of the skin. When applied with some intensity, the heart and arteries in general are weakened; the blood is delayed in the vessels near the surface, and not being changed to a red color in the lungs as fast as it should be, the fingers, ears, etc., become blue or livid; and, if the cold be continued sufficiently long, the circulation stops in these parts; heat ceases to be evolved, and mortification or death is the consequence. Parts killed in this way are said to be frost bitten.
A free circulation of red blood is essential to the continuance of sensibility. Hence, when the circulation is seriously impeded by cold, the body becomes numb, it loses its feeling; the muscles act feebly; a languor and torpor follows; drowsiness comes on, followed by sleep, from which there is no waking. Drowsiness, during exposure to extreme cold, indicates great danger.
Treatment. It is a great principle in restoring frost bitten parts, and persons benumbed with cold, to communicate heat in the most gradual manner. It has been said that the degree of external heat should be in proportion to the quantity of life. When life is weakened and nearly destroyed by frost, therefore, the warmth must be small, and rise no faster than life returns.
To restore a frozen limb or part, rub it with snow, or place it in cold water for some time. When feeling begins to return, still keep it in cold water and let heat be added in a very gradual manner, by pouring in, now and then, a very small quantity of warm water.
If a person be reduced by cold to insensibility, and apparently frozen to death, take his clothes off, and cover him all over with snow, except the mouth and nostrils. If snow is not to be had, put him in water as cold as ice, and let him lie for some minutes. Then rub him with cloths wet with cold water. When the body is thus thawed by degrees, and the muscles begin to relax, dry the body, and placing it in a cold bed, rub with the warm hands, only under the clothes. Continue this for hours. If signs of life appear, give a small injection of camphor and water, and put a drop of spirits of camphor on the tongue. After a time, rub with spirit and water, and finally with spirit, and give tea, or coffee, or brandy and water,
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