Ask the Doctor: Cold weather concerns, essential oil safety

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 12:50 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Dr. Bob Cassady from the South Bend Clinic joins us every week on 16 News Now at Noon to answer your medical questions.

Question #1 (from Alex): “The cold weather really bothers my arthritis. What’s the best remedy for this?”

DR. BOB: A very common complaint of patients who struggle with osteoarthritis is stiffness. As everyone knows, cold weather makes us feel stiffer and more sluggish. This can worsen symptoms of arthritis.

In general, recommendations to help are like treating arthritis at other times of the year. Trying to keep your joints from colder temperatures by wearing appropriate clothing is important. I would recommend working on a stretching regimen.

Finally, you can use over-the-counter pain medicines or consider doing physical therapy.

Question #2 (from Mary): “Are essential oils safe to use every day?”

DR. BOB: Essential oils are plant extracts. The word essential is referring to the “essence” of the plant from which the oil is extracted.

Essential oils are not medicines. They are dietary supplements. As you may hear me say often, it is difficult to offer certain advice about their benefits and risks.

In general, it is safer to use the oils on your skin rather than with a diffuser because oils can affect different people differently and a diffuser will expose more people.

In general, essential oils are felt to be safe. If you have medical problems or take prescription medicines, I recommend checking with your doctor to make sure there are no interactions.

Question #3 (from Michael): “Is it safe to be running outside when it’s so cold?”

DR. BOB: In general, it is not dangerous to exercise in the cold if appropriate protective measures are taken.

For patients with a history of heart disease, exercising in the cold can be dangerous and should be discussed with your doctor.

When assessing how cold it is, it is important to factor in the wind chill as well as the temperature. Appropriate clothing includes a hat, mittens, face covering.

It is important to layer your clothes. A shirt made of wicking material should be worn against the skin to remove moisture. The next layer should be insulating such as wool or fleece. The last layer should protect against the wind, rain, and snow.

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