There’s nothing quite like a Chicago winter. For those of us who have experienced it year after year, the cold temperatures never fail to creep up on us and they always feel colder than ever before. Between the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s important to prepare for the seasonal weather.


Though it may seem impossible to forget the freezing temperatures, you may not be aware of how cold your body actually is. This is when hypothermia occurs, which means your internal body temperature is too low. How can you know if what you’re feeling is hypothermia or simply a chill? Look out for these signs:

  • Muscles – If your muscles are unusually stiff, particularly in the neck, arms, and legs, you may have hypothermia. Be aware if different parts of your body are trembling.  
  • Shivering – Shivering means that your body isn’t able to keep warm. But, just because you aren’t shivering doesn’t mean you’re not cold.
  • Face – Be aware if your face is puffy or swollen, especially if your body is shivering.
  • Coordination – Notice if you’re having a problem walking or balancing, or if your body’s movements are jerky or jumpy.
  • Breathing and Heart Rate – If your body temperature is too low, both of these will slow.
  • Spots – A common sign of hypothermia is pale skin or blue/pink spots on different parts of your body. 
  • Confusion – Hypothermia can result in confusion; logical thinking may become impaired.

Ways to Avoid Hypothermia

 Although many of these suggestions may seem obvious, they can keep your body from becoming dangerously cold:

  • Wear warm clothing. Make sure you have a thick coat, hat, gloves, and scarf when you go outside.
  • Use extra blankets. There’s nothing wrong with cuddling up with two or three blankets before bed.
  • Eat nutritious foods. Eating healthy will help your body fight the cold.
  • Drink warm liquids. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate – whatever it is, use it to keep your insides warm.
  • Get enough sleep. Being well rested will help you fight the cold.

If you think you are a victim of hypothermia, seek help immediately.

Besides staying warm, there are plenty of things you can to do stay healthy as well!

One Green Tree, One Green Vegetable

Eating one green vegetable will not only help you avoid hypothermia, but it will keep you healthy this holiday season. Whatever you’re feasting on this Christmas, make sure your plate includes a green vegetable.

Keep Moving

By being somewhat active, you aren’t allowing your body to get too stiff. Help put some decorations up, make a pot of coffee, or get up to change the channel. Small movements such as these will help.

Wash Your Hands Regularly

The holiday season is notorious for pesky germs. Make sure to wash your hands multiple times throughout the day.

Christmas Fashion

This holiday season get yourself a pair of non-skid boots or shoes with plenty of traction. This will keep you from slipping on that slippery Chicago ice.

Leave Milk for Santa and Yourself

It’s no secret that milk makes for strong bones. Milk and dairy products such as cheese and yogurt are great sources of protein and calcium, which keeps your bones from breaking.


Melanie Marzillo
Research & Community Education

Chicago Skilled Nursing
Chicago Senior Living