Prevention and treatment of diseases in the Arctic, freezing, frostbite, trench foot.

The most characteristic diseases in the Arctic can be considered pathological conditions caused by the effects of cold on the human body. They are extremely diverse and vary widely from mild and relatively favorable forms (catarrh of the respiratory tract) to severe clinical lesions (frostbite, general freezing). 

Prevention and treatment of diseases in the Arctic, freezing, frostbite, trench foot.

A person’s prolonged stay in conditions of low temperature in the Arctic, especially in windy weather, with insufficiently warm clothes, and the absence of shelters and heating facilities, can lead to general cooling of the body. Overfatigue, malnutrition, blood loss, etc. will contribute to freezing..


The main task of assisting with freezing is to eliminate the factors that threaten life at the moment: apply a tourniquet during bleeding, make artificial respiration and, of course, take measures to prevent further cooling. Providing assistance in an autonomous existence is, first and foremost, heating a person by any means available. Bonfire warmth, heating pads, hot drink, gentle massage, etc. The ingestion of alcohol, especially in the third and fourth stages, is currently considered by many specialists to be contraindicated in connection with its inhibitory effect on the higher parts of the central nervous system.

Arctic frostbite prevention.

Exposure to low Arctic temperatures, especially in wind, on exposed or poorly protected areas of the body can cause frostbite. In the initial stage (first degree), only blanching of the skin and loss of sensitivity are observed. Then the skin takes a bluish color, bubbles form on it, filled with a cloudy, bloody liquid (second degree). When frostbite of the third degree, necrosis of the skin and underlying tissues occurs. Assisting in the first stage is to restore blood circulation in damaged tissues by rubbing the affected areas with a hat, the inside of the glove, a piece of woolen fabric, etc., until reddening and restoration of pain sensitivity.

In no case should you use snow for this purpose. Its crystals easily injure skin that is already damaged by freezing, contributing to the penetration of infection. Frozen limbs can be warmed with warm water and soap, accompanied by heating massage. When blistering, a sterile dressing with a syntomycin emulsion is applied to the frostbitten area. Since during frostbite, pain is often absent, since sensitivity disappears, it is necessary to constantly monitor the faces of comrades. With the appearance of white spots on the skin of the face, a sharp blanching of the tip of the nose, earlobes, chin, quick rubbing is quite effective. Frostbite detected in a timely manner is easily eliminated before serious disorders occur..

Arctic Trench Foot Disease Prevention.

As a result of prolonged exposure to the wet cold of the Arctic on the lower extremities (when wearing damp shoes, wet socks), the circulation of the feet may be impaired and a condition called a trench foot may develop. Feet and toes turn pale, numb. The leg gradually swells, becomes painful. Walking is difficult. In severe cases, deep circulatory disorders in the tissues of the foot occur until their necrosis. It is very important to remember that a trench foot can occur even at positive air temperatures..

The most reliable prevention of this disease is thorough shoe care, timely drying, and regular replacement of wet socks with dry ones. Hard physical work, even at subzero temperatures, is usually accompanied by copious sweat that soaks underwear and the inner layers of clothing. Since the main insulator, which provides heat-protective properties of clothing, is air, when wet, moisture, forcing it out of the dead space, increases the thermal conductivity of the fabric.

As a result, the body cools much faster. To avoid this, it is recommended that when carrying out heavy physical work (building a shelter, carrying goods, etc.), remove part of the outer clothing, unfasten the collar, cuffs. By providing these simple measures with ventilation of the working space, it is possible to prevent overheating and, consequently, increased sweating. After finishing work, the clothes are completely worn again. To prevent frostbite, you should regularly dry your shoes, clothes, cover the face with an impromptu mask in the wind.

Based on materials from the book Man in extreme environmental conditions.
V.G. Volovich.

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