Extreme ColdAn article in the New York Times during a week when frigid Arctic cold was spreading across the U.S. made an interesting statement:  Extreme cold is a relative thing.  That means when the National Weather Service reports “extreme cold” temperatures, the threshold will vary pending the location.  For example, warnings may occur at lower temps in North Dakota and higher temps in South Texas.  It all depends on the area’s climate history.

What caught our eye was the statement: “Everyone’s extreme is a different level.”  Anyone with Raynaud’s can certainly identify with that statement!  The article goes further to describe how those in colder climates may not only be better prepared (warmer clothes, used to layering, warmer building infrastructure), they may also be better acclimated to severe weather conditions.  If true, it may lend credence to the theories associated with cold therapy training.

Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, an expert on cold weather physiology and hyperthermia at the University of Manitoba is quoted as saying, “People who are more adapted to cold, like if you live in Minnesota, your skin will not get as cold.  Your body figures out through continued exposure that, ‘Well, we can afford to lose a little heat at the expense of keeping our skin warm because it takes a lot to actually cool the core.’”

Dr. Giesbrecht describes the process of the body’s response to cold much like that of a Raynaud’s attack – the blood vessels in the extremities tighten to send blood to our core to protect our vital organs.  Raynaud’s attacks are a natural human body reaction to cold exposure, it’s just that those with Raynaud’s have a lower threshold for this process to occur.  He states that those who are less accustomed to extreme cold will likely experience more vasoconstriction, leaving them more at risk of frostbite.  But, of course, extreme cold is a relative thing!

Based on this article, it appears a Raynaud’s patient’s threshold may differ based not only on their own biology, but also on where they live.  Do Frosties in Florida on average experience attacks at higher temperatures than those in Chicago?  It makes you wonder if Raynaud’s patients relocate to warmer climates, will they tend to tolerate air conditioning better than those who are natives of these warmer regions?  If so, will that tolerance change overtime as they get more used to their warmer environment?  These are all interesting questions to which we, unfortunately, have no answers.  We’d love to hear from Frosties who’ve relocated to warmer or