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Explained: Why people in north India should avoid consumption of alcohol during cold wave?

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New Delhi, Dec 28: Amid severe cold wave in the national capital and several other parts of North India, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued an unusual advisory. In an impact-based advisory, the IMD has urged residents of the northernmost states to protect themselves from the biting cold by avoiding alcohol.

According to reports, severe cold wave conditions are likely in parts of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi from December 29 onwards. Maximum temperature is also forecast to fall by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius after December 28.

Explained: Why people in north India should avoid consumption of alcohol during cold wave?

In its impact-based advisory, the IMD said the weather conditions were likely to increase the risk of contracting illnesses like the flu, and could also lead to symptoms like runny/stuffy nose and nosebleeds, which usually set in or are aggravated due to prolonged exposure to the cold.

IMD issues health warning as cold wave likely from Tuesday

The IMD also warned of frostbite, a condition where the skin turns pale, hard and numb and is eventually left with black blisters when exposed to extreme cold conditions. The notice also pointed out not to ignore shivering.

To avoid reactions to the cold wave, the IMD shared a list of recommendations, one of which was avoiding alcohol as it "reduces your body temperature". The department also urged people to limit outdoor activities, moisturise their skin regularly with oil or cream, eat vitamin-C rich fruits and vegetables.

But, an alcoholic beverage to beat the cold on a winter night might seem like a good idea to many. However, the IMD and several health experts have warned otherwise. While alcohol may make you feel warmer, it actually reduces your body temperature and compromises your immunity if you then venture out into the cold.

Why alcohol is bad to consume in cold?

According to a study jointly conducted by the Thermal Physiology and the Medicine Division, US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, alcohol can decrease the core temperature of the body and increase the risk of hypothermia during cold exposure.

It can be seen that hypothermia is a severe medical condition where the body loses heat before it can generate it, resulting in a dangerously low body temperature. While normal body temperature lies at around 37 degrees Celsius, the body temperature of a person suffering from hypothermia drops to below 35 degrees Celsius.

The common signs include shivering, slow rate of breathing, slurred speech, cold skin and fatigue.

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    Consumption of heavy alcohol is often linked to an increased risk of hypothermia and other conditions linked to extreme cold weather. The study points out that alcohol has psychological and behavioural effects, which can impact a person's ability to correctly perceive how cold it is.

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