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The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
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Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

An Unsolicited Opinion: Winter is the worst


I’ve been writing this column for a while, and I’ve used it to express my opinion on a variety of issues from free speech and vaccine exemptions to true crime entertainment and new Instagram policies. This week, I’d like to take some time to address a problem I feel very strongly about—winter. Winter is terrible. I hate it.

Honestly, I wish that could be the column. While I normally feel like I need to defend my opinions, I’m fine letting this one stand on its own. However, I’m told this column must be at least 700 words. So I guess I’ll have to go about making my case that winter is, in fact, the worst season and that anyone who disagrees with me is insane.

Temperatures dropped dramatically in Iowa at beginning of the week, marking the beginning of a nation-wide “arctic blast.” Saturday was a beautiful autumn day, but by Monday morning there were several inches of snow on the ground and a wind chill that prompted winter weather advisories around Iowa. Though some people might celebrate the first real snow of the year with snowballs and hot chocolate, everyone should know that cold weather is dangerous and can adversely affect your health in numerous ways.

To start with, millions of American struggle with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during the winter. And while I find its acronym delightfully on the nose, SAD can be a very serious illness; symptoms can include typical depressive symptoms like irritability, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and loss of interest in things once pleasurable. It’s estimated that four to six percent of the population experiences SAD and that another 10-20 percent may experience a milder form of SAD. Treatment for SAD includes vitamin D supplementation, light therapy, psychotropic medication and counseling.

Cold weather can also cause and exacerbate an assortment of physical health issues. Cold viruses replicate more efficiently in colder weather, and the cold dries out the inside of your nose making you more susceptible to cold, flu and noroviruses. If you’re unfamiliar with a norovirus, it’s typically a stomach bug. While cases are not usually fatal, they are extremely unpleasant. In a much appreciated bit of melodrama, Iowa Chiropractic Clinic’s website declares that “[the virus is] not fatal, but if you catch it you may wish you were dead.”

Cold weather also increases the risk of heart attack and stroke in those at risk. In the cold, your heart pumps faster and your blood vessels constrict, which can minimize blood flow to the heart and cause chest pain.

If depression, the flu and heart attacks don’t concern you, maybe knowing that the cold can cause a variety of skin conditions will give you pause. Frostbite is always a concern, but conditions like chilblains, cold urticaria and eczema can also affect those exposed to cold weather. Chilblains is a painful, blistering rash caused by exposure to cold weather, and cold urticaria can cause life threatening anaphylaxis. Eczema, a common skin condition affecting over 30 million people, is often worsened by cold weather conditions. Breaks in skin caused by any of these conditions, or even just dry or chapped skin, can result in a life-threatening infection.

Clearly, winter is terrible for everyone’s health, and I have conclusively proven that winter is the absolute worst – that is, unless you are pro-depression, pro-flu or pro-heart attack.
Seriously, though – cold weather conditions can be dangerous, and it’s a good idea to take some precautions. If you think you are experiencing SAD symptoms, schedule an appointment with the Student Health and Wellness Center. It also might be worth it to invest in a light therapy lamp and some vitamin D supplements.

Older people and people with heart conditions should talk to their doctors about what they need to do to stay safe in cold weather. This may include avoiding strenuous activity like shoveling snow.
Minimize your chances of getting sick this season by getting the flu shot and washing your hands often. If you do get sick, please have mercy on those around you and cough and sneeze into the crook of your arm.

Even if you’re perfectly healthy, try to take care of yourself and minimize the time your skin is exposed to freezing temperatures. And finally, remember that while drinking alcohol might make you feel warmer, it does not actually make you warmer or protect you from the cold. If tem

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    Elizabeth BrennanNov 18, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    I’m sorry we raised you in Alaska.
    Love, Mom