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Ask Doctor Cory.

How can you catch frostbite? One time my Grandpa and I were running, and my legs felt really, really cold! How can you prevent that?

Lori Harrris Madison, Wisconsin

Dear Lori:

Frostbite happens when the nerves, blood vessels, and other cells in your skin freeze for a short time. Although frostbite usually occurs in the hands, feet, nose, ears, and cheeks, it can occur in any part of the body exposed to cold air. When the skin is wet, the body loses heat much faster. This makes it easier for frostbite to develop.

Some early warning signs of frostbite are redness and a tingling feeling in the skin. It is important to rewarm the area as soon as possible and slowly in warm, not hot, water. And do not rub! If you don't warm up right away, the skin will turn white, itch, and/or burn, swell, be painful, or lose feeling. If this happens, it is time to call your doctor.

The temperature does not have to be below freezing for frostbite to occur. It's the amount of time that your skin is exposed to the cold that can cause frostbite. Keep body heat trapped in by wearing several layers of clothing. Wear a hat and a scarf to protect the face. Wear mittens when possible to keep fingers closer together and warmer. Change clothes when they get wet!

And Wear Boots!

There has been an increased number of children with a pre-frostbite condition known as trench foot. This can occur when children do not wear proper boots and sit in school all day with cold, wet feet or play in the snow. The problem is most noticeable among children who wear athletic shoes because these shoes are neither waterproof nor insulated.

Symptoms of trench foot include redness, swelling, numbness, blisters, and breaks in the skin. Children with this condition should soak their feet in a warm (not hot!) bath and then gently pat their feet dry. Feet should then be kept warm and dry.

Preventing Dental Injuries When Playing "Slam-Dunk" Basketball

Many young aspiring basketball players would give their eyeteeth to slam-dunk basketballs like the pros. Unfortunately, some children have literally done just that! Now that driveway basketball goals can be lowered for slam-dunking, school-age children, especially, have been going for the slamdunk and catching their teeth in the net as they come down from the shot. According to a report in the September 1997 Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), "If the teeth become entangled in the net, the forces on the teeth may be great enough to pull the teeth out of their sockets." The "pulled-out," or avulsed, teeth occurred primarily if the backboard had been lowered or if the players used objects to raise their take-off area to dunk the basketball. None of the players were wearing mouthguards.

The cost of treating the avulsed teeth ranged from $35 to $2,200. The average cost was $929. Three patients had lost an avulsed tooth that could not be replanted.

Jack Winters, D.D.S., past president of the Academy for Sports Dentistry and one of the authors of the article, says, "When children go up for a dunk, they move closer to the net. Most youngsters don't have the coordination to avoid the net or the strength to hang on the rim if the net catches on a tooth or braces, Older players with longer arms are less at risk."

To prevent tooth avulsions resulting from basketball net entanglement, the authors of the JADA report recommend the following:

* Basketball backboards should not be lowered to a level at which the face may come in contact with the net, especially in children younger than fourteen years.

* Players should be discouraged from raising the take-off area under a basketball backboard.

* Players should not climb on the basketball rim or backboard.

* A mouthguard should be worn when playing basketball, either recreationally or competitively. The mouthguard may prevent teeth from becoming entangled in the basketball net.

The Dura Slam Net, an embossed net, may be used instead of the traditional net to help protect young basketball players. Dr. Winters thinks that all "driveway lowered backboards" should have this net. For information on the Dura Slam Net, call 1-800-842-SLAM.


Cory SerVaas, M.D.
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Title Annotation:causes of frostbite; basketball and tooth injuries
Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:Humpty Dumpty's Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2000
Previous Article:AROUND and AROUND.
Next Article:I Like to Swim.

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