WHEN WE ARE IN A COOL ROOM or outside in frost, the body turns on the mechanisms of thermoregulation. If the body freezes, it becomes covered with goose bumps, begins to tremble. This is how the body’s defensive reaction manifests itself: the vessels narrow, reducing heat transfer, and small muscle movements help to keep warm. In the event of a draft, the situation changes. How exactly this happens and what threatens, we found out from the experts: the chief physician of the “Gemotest” Laboratory ”Olga Dekhtyareva and the doctor of medical sciences, neurologist, chief physician of the clinic of oriental and traditional medicine“ Doctor Choi ”Choi Yong Joon.
Why is a draft dangerous?
A draft is a flow of air that occurs in an almost enclosed space through openings that are opposite each other. When the body finds itself in this stream, the air stream acts locally, that is, it is directed to a specific area of the body, for example, the neck or lower back. Doctor Olga Dekhtyareva gives an example: if a vessel with a liquid is placed under a stream of cold water, after a while the entire contents of the vessel will cool down, in about the same way as the temperature of the surface of a human body will imperceptibly decrease while being in a draft. The latter can provoke an exacerbation of myositis (muscle inflammation), intercostal neuralgia, inflammation of the facial nerve, or exacerbation of chronic infections. For example, imperceptible cooling activates the herpes virus living in the body, which attacks the nervous tissue – and blistering eruptions appear along the affected nerve.
At the same time, neurologist Choi Yong Joon draws attention to the fact that a draft in a room or a cold wind outside does not cause illness by itself. These are only factors that activate the problems already existing in the body. True, if health is in order, but I had to spend half a day at the computer in a sitting position with a tense neck, then even a small draft can increase muscle spasm – this will cause muscle inflammation. Let’s repeat: the neck begins to ache not because it was “blown”, but from excessive muscle contraction – including as a reaction to cold.
How to be treated if “blew”
Myositis is an inflammation of one or more muscles, when muscle fibers swell, spasm occurs and nerve endings are pinched. This very problem is often hidden behind the phrase “blew my neck”. Sharp pain when moving or pressing is a common symptom that cannot be relieved with massage, compress or rubbing with a warming agent (a mistake of many patients). An anti-inflammatory analgesic ointment will help get rid of discomfort, but if the condition has not improved after a couple of days or has become worse, do not postpone a visit to a neurologist. After the examination, it is necessary to undergo the prescribed treatment, for example, a course of physiotherapy.
If the doctor determines that the nerve endings entering the intervertebral foramen are inflamed, and the pain intensifies and “lumbago” appears in the arm or head, the diagnosis will be different – neuritis, that is, inflammation of the nerve (it is also called radiculitis or radiculopathy). The treatment of the disease is usually helped by injections of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (the usual ibuprofen and similar drugs), as well as drugs to relieve pain and swelling. With intercostal neuralgia, the nerve endings cause pain along the entire length of the spine, in particular, in the thoracic region. According to Olga Dekhtyareva, patients are often frightened and confuse this problem with heart disease: chest pain appears, which either disappears or intensifies during coughing, deep breaths or changes in body position, and breathing may become difficult. We talked about how to distinguish angina pectoris (pain associated with heart problems) from intercostal neuralgia. Treatment is reduced to pain relief and inflammation relief with an anti-inflammatory agent.
Neuritis of the facial nerve is another disease that can be caused by reduced immunity due to local cooling (especially in cold weather): spasm of blood vessels and muscles temporarily disrupts the nutrition of the facial nerve, and it becomes inflamed. The facial nerve passes through very narrow channels in the bones of the face, so even minor inflammation and swelling lead to compression, which causes the symptoms of the disease. Usually, unpleasant sensations appear behind the ear and gradually shift to the area of the face and neck. As a result, literally in a few days it becomes difficult to control facial expressions, the symmetry of the face is noticeably disturbed, speech becomes slurred, nervous tics are not excluded. Experts note that the disease can be protracted, and its severity and recovery time depend on which part of the nerve is damaged and how quickly treatment was started. At the onset of the disease, vasodilators and decongestants, B vitamins and pain relievers are effective. From the second week, you can apply physiotherapy and facial massage. In difficult cases, when there is no improvement within 8-12 months, an operation is prescribed.
Is it possible to catch a cold from a draft?
A positive answer to this question seems obvious – but it is wrong. We have already written that, for example, viruses are the cause of ARVI , and not a walk in windy weather, a draft in the office or an ice cocktail drunk in one gulp. Of course, if you are constantly freezing, it is easier to get sick: the body simply spends more resources on trying to warm up, “forgetting” about the protective functions, and viruses have more chances for uncontrolled reproduction. True, usually a single draft or even wet feet is not enough for this. If you do get sick, we remind you that you do not need to treat a cold, you just have to wait for the body to defeat it and relieve the symptoms: high fever, sore throat, runny nose. Antiviral agents for the treatment of ARVI do not exist, and the effectiveness of immunomodulators and immunostimulants has not been proven to date.
The same applies to the risk of “chilling” the bladder or kidneys – theoretically it is possible, but only if you stay in the cold for several hours, preferably without moving and without clothes. True, in this case, big problems will begin not only with the kidneys. In other situations , it is almost impossible to reduce the temperature of internal organs , and inflammation of the bladder (cystitis) or kidneys (pyelonephritis) is usually associated with a bacterial infection, kidney stones, taking certain medications or congenital abnormalities, but definitely not with exposure to cold.