Cold wave prediction for North India: IMD advises people against alcohol consumption; here’s why

By: |
December 28, 2020 1:50 PM

What is the significance of the department’s impact-based advisory to avoid alcohol?

winter in Delhi, cold wave in north indiaHypothermia causes a person’s body temperature to decrease by over 2 degrees Celsius, which can be dangerous.

Cold wave in North India: North India is likely to face a severe cold wave, according to the predictions of the India Meteorological Department (IMD). With this, the weather department has issued an advisory for the residents of North India to not drink alcohol in order to protect them from the biting cold, according to a report by IE. Starting December 29, Rajasthan, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are likely to experience severe cold waves, when the IMD has also predicted the maximum temperature to fall by a whopping 3 degrees to 5 degrees Celsius, the report added. So what is the significance of the department’s impact-based advisory to avoid alcohol?

The IMD stated that with such biting cold conditions, the chances of illnesses like flu would increase, and other symptoms like nosebleeds and runny or stuffy nose, which set in because of increased exposure to cold, could also increase. The IMD also cautioned residents of frostbite, where the skin loses colour and becomes hard and numb, eventually being left with black blisters if it is exposed to extremely cold conditions for a long time. The notice said that people must not ignore their shivering as that would be the first sign of the body losing its heat and that is when people must get back indoors.

In order to avoid getting severely impacted by the cold, the IMD gave many recommendations, one of which was to avoid alcohol. The notice said that alcohol can cause the body temperature to go down. The weather department also warned against a lot of outdoor activities, and asked people to moisturise the skin frequently, drink warm fluids and eat fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C so that immunity can be maintained.

Alcohol and cold weather: What experts say

The report stated that while many think that having alcohol to beat the cold is a good idea, the weather department as well as several experts have said to the contrary. The alcohol makes the person feel warm, but it reduces the body temperature, compromising the person’s immunity if they were to venture into the cold. A study found that the core temperature of the body decreased due to alcohol, thus increasing the risk of hypothermia if exposed to cold.

Hypothermia causes a person’s body temperature to decrease by over 2 degrees Celsius, which can be dangerous.

Alcohol, due to its psychological and behavioural impacts, can cause a person to misjudge how cold they are feeling, and instances of people drinking alcohol and then passing outdoors during severely cold conditions are commonly reported.

Alcohol and body temperature: How it works

Alcohol makes the blood vessels relax and open or dilate, as it is a vasodilator, the report said. This means that upon drinking alcohol, a person’s dilated blood vessels lead to more blood being brought to the surface of the skin, making a person feel warmer – hence why a person who is intoxicated looks flushed.

Because of this warmer skin surface, the body begins sweating which automatically causes the overall body temperature to reduce. Thus, drinking lots of alcohol can affect whether the body can properly detect how cold it actually is.

On the other hand, experts have said that moderate consumption of alcohol in temperate environments do not severely impact the core body temperature of the person.

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