Have your elderly parents been complaining about feeling cold too often recently? Does feeling cold in elderly indicate morbidity? Learn how to protect your seniors from morbidities whose symptoms might be feeling cold all the time.
Older adults are weaker in many aspects in comparison to adults. The mortality rate in seniors is 21% higher during the winters, indicating a link between the weather and death.
Does feeling an excessive cold indicate that you might have a disease? Let us understand the facts and take preventive measures to prevent harm to ourselves.
What Is Morbidity?
Morbidity is a condition of suffering from a disorder; it can also be stated as the rate of suffering from a disease.
What is the difference between morbidity and mortality?
Morbidity means the consequences of a disease. It often refers to a chronic condition. Some of the examples of morbidity include heart disease, obesity, respiratory disorder, and many more. On the other hand, mortality means the number of deaths due to a specific disease or illness.
What Causes Morbidity Among Older People?
Many factors influence the morbidity rate in the elderly. Some of them are:
#1 Side-effects of medications
Older people may end up getting side effects from too much medication. As high as 42% of adults above the age of 65 take more than five prescription drugs a day, which is surely concomitant with overmedication, incorrect medication, and medicinal side-effects among the elderly. People suffer from any side effects if they overdose on any medicine or when the composition doesn’t suit them.
#2 Loss of a loved one
Older people require love and care. You need to pay attention to their health and keep them engaged, keep them feeling good about life. The loss of a loved one may result in loneliness, depression and this is directly linked with disease and higher morbidity.
#3 Suffering from a chronic disorder
Suffering from any sort of chronic disorder like kidney disease, diabetes, and thyroid problems may result in a higher morbidity rate amongst old age. People with diabetes are at a higher risk of being triggered by other disorders.
#4 Being an independent caretaker
Being an independent caretaker and taking all the responsibilities of a house may result in stressful circumstances. Many studies have linked over-stress to higher morbidity and diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes. This may elevate the rate of being affected by morbidity.
#5 Being isolated
Living isolated without interacting with your family members and loved ones may lead to overthinking in older adults. This can cause morbidity in old age people.
What Are the Ways To Overcome Morbidity?
You can overcome morbidity by leading a healthy lifestyle and including any physical activity regularly. By focusing more on nutritious food, you can get rid of any nutrition deficiency. You can include physical activities like
- Brisk walking
- High-intensity activities
- Climbing stairs
Natural Reasons Why You May Feel Cold With Age
Cold winters increase morbidity in seniors, especially those suffering from cardiovascular or respiratory disease. Older people are prone to suffer from morbidity. It can happen to all of us, but older people can indicate many diseases due to morbidity.
Reduced-fat under our skin
As we grow older, the layer of fat under the skin starts thinning, and thus older people are more prone to cold. They need warmer clothes in the winter season than adults and children. As the fat conserves heat, you feel cold as the fat layers start to thin out.
Your metabolism rate reduces
Body receptors are known to tell your blood vessels to constrict and thus retain body temperature and heat. But as you turn old, your metabolism rate decreases, and thus blood vessels don’t constrict immediately. This results in reduced body responses to the cold, and thus older people feel colder than adults.
Blood vessels in your body lose elasticity:
As the blood vessels in your body lose elasticity, the blood circulation in the body reduces. It is hard to maintain heat and body temperature due to lower blood circulation. This increases the rate of getting affected by the cold in older people.
Is cold bad for older people?
Old age people are more likely to develop colds and flu. Due to medical conditions, an older person shouldn’t leave at a temperature of 95° F or less than that. Living at this temperature may result in medical disorders like hypothermia, heart attack, and kidney disorders.
How To Avoid Feeling Cold
There are several ways to protect yourself from a feeling of cold, especially when the weather is inclement. Pay special attention to clothing, and consume foods that retain heat. You should try to avoid consuming refrigerated drinks and cold food items.
The deficiency of certain nutrients can make you feel cold all the time. Lack of vitamin B12 and iron may lead to cold hands and feet all the time.
To cope with this deficiency, you can add some good sources of vitamin B12 and iron doors to your diet. For example, foods like Vitamin B12, pork, sardines, salmon, paneer, tofu, and milk are excellent Vitamin B12 and iron sources.
You can also add some supplements to your diet to make up for the daily need for these nutrients.
Chronic Conditions That You Might Be Suffering From If You Are Cold All The Time
Feeling cold as you age is a normal part of aging; however, it can indicate the underlying illness. If you feel cold all the time, make sure you visit the doctor and get yourself treated. The doctor will help you diagnose if you suffer from any serious problem before the condition worsens.
Blood circulation is responsible for retaining heat; however, if the blood is not transferred correctly to arms, legs, and feet, a person may start feeling cold.
This may be a symptom of cardiovascular diseases like peripheral artery disease or coronary artery disease. Accumulation of plaque can reduce blood flow. Due to cardiovascular disease, a person may feel cold and can quickly develop cold and flu.
The kidneys help in filtering the blood of any and all impurities. Any kidney disease can hamper this function, and thus waste starts getting accumulated in the body. This can lead to anemia, and therefore you might start to feel cold. Feeling cold all the time might be a symptom of kidney disease.
Anemia is another reason people suffer from cold hands and feet. When a person suffers from anemia, the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to transfer oxygen to the body’s tissues. As you need to supply red blood cells to the body’s vital organs, your skin, hands, and feet may be deprived of enough oxygen, leading to excessive cold.
Higher diabetes levels may damage the body’s nerves, which may lead to colds, hands, and feet. Excessive diabetes levels may lead to kidney problems or anemia. This leads to getting affected by the cold.
Many hormones are responsible for regulating body heat and temperature. Suffering from hypothyroidism may hamper the hormone secretion and lead to cold hands and feet.
Common Cold In The Elderly
One simple reason that you might be feeling cold is that you have a cold!
The Rhinovirus is responsible for the common cold. This virus is present in the form of droplets when someone sneezes and coughs. It enters our body through the eyes, nose, or mouth.
The effect of the common cold is more dangerous to the elderly body because they have lower immunity and might also be having comorbidities.
Older people are more likely to have a fever when they contract the common cold. They are likely to have problems with cognition. The biggest concern is that the common cold can cause other diseases like hypertension or lung disease to become aggravated.
Symptoms of the common cold in older adults?
- Sore throat
Coughing is less common among the elderly.
What are the risk factors which increase the chances of suffering from a cold?
#1 Winter season
Both elders and kids are more likely to suffer from cold during the winter season as the temperature falls. However, you can get cold any time of the year.
A person can get easily affected by a cold when he smokes or is around a person who smokes. Smokers suffer from more severe colds, and in more frequency than others. Smoking is known to reduce your immunity which is why you get more easily affected by the common cold.
#3 Exposure to the surrounding
When exposed to the surroundings, you are more likely to catch or contact the infected people. You are more prone to the viruses that cause colds.
#4 Weaker immune system
Being older and suffering from chronic illness can also increase your risk of getting affected by a cold.
#5. Vitamin D deficiency
Research has shown that people with vitamin D deficiency suffer from the cold and flu more frequently than others. You can incorporate foods with higher Vitamin D to overcome nutritional deficiencies. If you overcome Vitamin D deficiency, you may not be susceptible to cold at a higher rate.
Other Diseases That Get Aggravated by Common Cold
The likelihood of getting community-acquired pneumonia and dying as a result of it is much higher in older adults than in those who are younger.
Cold is known to enhance wheezing even if we don’t suffer from asthma. If we suffer from asthma, the common cold makes it worse.
When it doesn’t get resolved, the common cold leads to inflammation, pain, and infection of the sinuses. This is known as sinusitis.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
COPD is a lung disease that is known to have a strong correlation to years of smoking, which means it is more likely to occur in older adults. A common cold can flare up COPD.
How to avoid the common cold in older people?
Try to be active:
By being more active, you can sweat more. Sweating helps retain the body temperature and heat in your body. Older adults should be active at least for 30 minutes a day.
Try to shower with lukewarm water:
In winter, when the temperature drops, using lukewarm water for bathing will help you keep your body hot.
Being hydrated is an essential step in all seasons. Drink a lot of water, juices, electrolyte drinks, coconut water, etc., to remain hydrated.
The chances of being affected by cold are higher in the winter season. You can prevent yourself from being affected by hypothermia by wearing warm clothes and burning bonfires. This will keep your body heated.
When to see a doctor if you are suffering from a cold?
- Shortness of breath
- Suffering from fever with a temperature higher than 38.5 degrees Celsius.
- Severe headache
- Extreme sore throat
- Sinus pain
Hypothermia In The Elderly
Exposure to extreme cold and not being able to retain a balance between heat loss can result In hypothermia. People who do hiking, mountain climbing are on the verge of getting affected by hypothermia.
If the person doesn’t get adequate food and clothes to keep themselves warm, then hypothermia may worsen. People with less body fat can also be affected by hypothermia, even in mild environments.
Other reasons: Other medical conditions like hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and kidney diseases can also cause hypothermia in older adults.
Symptoms of Hypothermia In Older Adults
- Less memory
- Slurred speech
- Fumbling hands
- Being exhausted
Treatment For Hypothermia
Hypothermia requires extreme care while treating. If you don’t have access to medical help, there are a few things that you should do as immediate first aid:
- Don’t make any sudden or quick movements to the person.
- Take them out of the cold and into a warm place
- If they are wet, remove all wet clothes. If need be, cut out the clothing.
- Cover with blankets. Use multiple layers
- Use thick rugs, carpets, or else place the person on a bed. Keep them away from the cold ground.
- Keep a check on their breathing. Apply CPR if breathing stops
- Give them hot beverages if they are able to swallow.
- Use a towel of a warm compress to provide heat to the neck (but not the arms or legs)
Older people are more prone to suffer from cold and hypothermia because of age-related bodily changes that we pointed out at the start of our article.
While it’s important to understand that this is a natural phenomenon of aging, it’s also important to recognize that feeling cold all the time might also be a symptom of other chronic diseases such as lung, heart, and kidney disease. Therefore, keep an eagle eye out for such conditions in the elderly and get regular checkups done to avoid these problems.
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