APR 20, 2016 1:02 PM PDT

Frostbitten: How Cold Temperatures Damage the Body

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Animals that live in the frigid Antarctic have evolved many sophisticated adaptations to deal with the cold, including insulating blubber and fur. Even more refined than this, the Antarctic toothfish can produce "antifreeze proteins" that keeps their blood from turning into ice. But the humans just arent as well adapted, and exposure to extreme cold harsh conditions can have damaging impacts on our bodies.

Frostbite is considered an injury to the skin and underlying tissues due to extreme cold. In conditions where the core body temperature dips below its regular 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 Fahrenheit), the hypothalamus diverts blood away from the extremities to preserve warmth to the vital organs. This is why frostbite effects are most severe in the hands and feet.

There are three stages to frostbite: frostnip, superficial frostbite, and deep frostbite. Of the three, deep frostbite is the most dangerous, as the entire skin and underlying tissues are damaged, which could warrant amputation. Watch the video to learn a first-hand account of frostbite dangers!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
DEC 08, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 08, 2019
What's Inside a Pufferfish May Surprise You
Pufferfish are among one of the most easily discernable fish in the ocean, especially when inflated. But do you know how these little fish are able to expa...
DEC 16, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 16, 2019
Here's What Would Happen if the Earth Stopped Orbiting the Sun
The Earth orbits the Sun once every 365 days, or one full year. It does this while whizzing through the vacuum of space at break-neck speeds of up to 110,0...
DEC 17, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 17, 2019
Watch Seals Band Together to Scare a Great White Shark Away
Great white sharks are rather renowned for being massive and merciless predators of the ocean, and among their favorite prey are fur seals, which are rich...
DEC 29, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 29, 2019
The Dangers of Space Debris Explained
Humankind has become increasingly reliant on satellites and space technology to conduct everyday life, be it GPS for navigation on the road or satellite in...
FEB 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 16, 2020
Just How Powerful is a Piece of Space Debris?
One of the most commonly discussed topics in space science today is the space junk problem, in which space junk collides with objects to create space debri...
FEB 18, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 18, 2020
Will We Ever Solve the Universe's 'Dark Matter' Mystery?
If you were to take a step back from the Milky Way and attempt to observe our universe, you’d see a plethora of bright and colorful sectors made up o...
Loading Comments...