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  • Wintertime is a more challenging season for injuries due to environmental conditions and increased need for preparation.
  • Some of the most common injuries during the winter months include: falls on icy surfaces, heart attacks from shoveling snow, and frostbite or hypothermia.
  • To stay safe and healthy during the winter months, be sure to prepare your body for any outside activities.

Ice, snow, frigid temperatures—wintertime is packed with potential hazards, making it a prime season for injuries.

“Winter is more challenging from an injury standpoint due to rapidly changing environmental conditions and increased need for preparation,” Craig Bilbrey, MD, medical director at Corewell Health Butterworth Emergency Department, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, told Health.

“Weather can change from chillingly cold to temperate over a short period of time. Surfaces can vary from dry, to wet, to packed snow, to ice within a few feet depending on temperature, traffic, and sun exposure,” said Dr. Bilbrey. “This requires a level of diligence and preparation unnecessary at other times of the year.”

Most people are also less active during the winter months, which ramps up the risk of injury when you suddenly do highly active things like shovel snow after a big storm, go for a wintry hike, or pack in a full day of snowboarding.

“When your body is unaccustomed to that activity level, you can get injured,” Mark Conroy, MD, an emergency medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Health.

Here’s what to know about the most common wintertime injuries—and how to prevent or avoid them.


Ice, snow, and slush can quickly create hazardous walking situations, including some you can’t easily see.

“People can break their wrist if they’re trying to break their fall, break a hip, fall and hit their heads, leading to a brain injury—we see pretty much any injury from falls,” Cedric Dark, MD, MPH, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told Health.

While falls can happen even when you’re being cautious, it’s a good idea to be aware of your footwear when you go out in the winter to lower your risk. “Make sure you have good treads and footwear that fits properly,” said Dr. Dark.

Try to pay a little more attention to where you’re walking as well, given that icy conditions aren’t always obvious. “Make sure that, when you’re walking and standing, you have a good grip,” Anita Gorwara, MD, family medicine physician and medical director of urgent care at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, told Health.

Another tip, according to Dr. Conroy: Spread sand, salt, or kitty litter outside of your home when there are icy conditions to create more stable footing. “I also tell folks to avoid carrying too much in the winter,” Dr. Conroy says. “Sometimes if you’re overpacking yourself, it can impact your balance. Adding ice to the mix can make things more difficult.”

Back injuries

Shoveling snow is an important chore after a big storm, but it can easily lead to a back injury if you lift too heavy a load or turn at an odd angle. “Be aware of your baseline level of fitness and risks,” said Dr. Bilbrey.

It may even be a good move to stretch or warm up a bit before going outside to shovel snow, especially if you’re not used to regularly lifting heavy things.

And when you actually shovel, a good rule is to lift with your legs and avoid bending at your lower back—and don’t overdo it, even if it takes a bit longer. “Lift a weight of snow that feels relatively easy and take your time,” said Dr. Bilbrey.

Simply pushing snow is an option, too. “That can certainly lower your risk of stress to your back,” said Dr. Conroy.

Heart attacks

Shoveling snow is difficult, and research has shown that there are cardiovascular health risks to shoveling snow for people with and without diagnosed heart disease.

“Shoveling snow is a very strenuous activity, made even more so by the impact that cold temperatures have on your body, increasing the blood pressure while simultaneously constricting the coronary arteries,” Barry Franklin, PhD, lead author of a 2020 American Heart Association scientific statement on exercise-related acute cardiovascular events, said in a press release. “It really is a ‘perfect storm’ for acute cardiac events.”

Franklin referenced a study that found that participants’ heart rates exceeded the upper limit of aerobic testing—or 85% of maximal heart rate—after just two minutes of shoveling snow. Even pushing an automatic snow blower can raise heart rate and blood pressure quickly.

Baseline physical health matters here: “The impact for snow removal is especially concerning for people who already have cardiovascular risks like a sedentary lifestyle or obesity, being a current or former smoker, having diabetes, high cholesterol or blood pressure, as well people who have had a heart attack or stroke,” said Franklin.

According to Dr. Conroy, if you’re a fairly athletic person in good health, you should be relatively safe shoveling snow—but it’s still a good idea to be aware of the risks, and any warning signs of heart issues.

“If you have any shortness of breath or chest pain while exerting yourself, stop the activity, rest, and get evaluated,” said Dr. Bilbrey. “This is particularly important if you have risk factors for heart disease.”


Frostbite is a bodily injury due to freezing, and typically affects the outermost extremities like the fingers or toes; or the cheeks, ears, nose, or chin. It can lead to permanent damage and, in rare and severe cases, amputation.

Exposed skin is at the highest risk of frostbite, said Dr. Bilbrey; that’s why it’s recommended to wear multiple protective layers that are both windproof and waterproof.

Frostbitten skin appears white or grayish-yellow that may also feel firm or waxy when touched. The affected areas will also feel numb.

Although medical care is the best route to take in cases of frostbite, sometimes immediate attentions isn’t available. In those cases, it’s important to find warmth as soon as possible, and use body heat or warm—not hot—water to slowly but steadily warm up extremities. Using too much heat on frostbitten body parts may result in burns.


Hypothermia is a dangerously low body temperature that’s caused by prolonged exposure to very cold temperatures.

When you’re exposed to cold temperatures, your body starts to lose heat faster than it produces heat, lowering your body temperature in the process. While you’re at the greatest risk of hypothermia in very cold temperatures, it’s still possible to develop the condition even at temperatures above 40 degrees.

To keep your body temperature stable, even when you’re outside, it’s important to dress for the weather. That may mean wearing multiple layers, ideally ones that are waterproof.

“The cold, wet weather increases risk for hypothermia, [so] an outer layer that is waterproof or repellent is a must,” said Dr. Bilbrey. He added that it’s important not to spent more time than absolutely necessary outside when it’s cold—and if you do have to be outside for a long period of time, to “dress and prepare” accordingly.



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Image by Jacob Lund

Yoga is so radical, it overturns everything you and I have accepted since we were children. We’ve been chugging along year after year based on completely hollow beliefs and assumptions. Some beliefs matter more than others. These are known as “core beliefs,” and when your core beliefs are wrong and misguided, trouble is always brewing—if not today, then in some worrisome future. To bring them closer to home, I’ll list the core beliefs we all take personally.

False core beliefs:

  • I don’t really matter. I am small, ordinary, and insignificant.
  • I deserve only so much love. At heart, I am probably unlovable. Life hasn’t been fair to me. That’s because life is unfair.
  • If I don’t look out for number one, no one else will.
  • There is much to fear in this world. Self-protection is very important.
  • If I show anyone that I am vulnerable, they will take advantage. I need to seem strong and independent.
  • The forces of nature are all-powerful. I will be fortunate if some natural disaster doesn’t befall me.
  • The universe is a vast, cold, empty void. The Earth and everyone on it are less than a speck of dust, a product of random events going back to the Big Bang.

These beliefs undermine everyone’s life. They are ingrained in us early on, and they have sunk so deep into our sense of self that they hardly deserve a second glance. If you accept the unreality that Yoga rejects, your core beliefs will seem completely logical. Look around you or listen to the 24-hour news cycle. Isn’t life unfair? Don’t each of us deserve only a limited amount of love? Isn’t the Earth a speck of dust floating in a cold, empty void?

Royal Yoga holds out an ideal life based on a new set of core beliefs. These are literally the opposite of the false core beliefs we have all been mistakenly living by.

True core beliefs:

  • Your existence is based on an infinite field of consciousness. It is your source.
  • Your true self has access to infinite possibilities.
  • At your source, you are connected to infinite love and bliss. Your true self is immune to fear, depression, aging, and death. You are always completely safe. There is nothing to worry about.
  • You have no need to project an image of strength and independence. You have no need to project any image at all.
  • The Earth and everything on it have a unique place in the tapestry of reality, woven by cosmic consciousness.

When people read these statements about an ideal life, they immediately assume they are merely someone else’s beliefs, like the beliefs that underlie organized religion. Many would say that the entire issue of spirituality rests upon belief alone.

It is impossible to accept Christianity unless you affirm the divinity of the resurrected Jesus, or so St. Paul declared in his letters to the early churches. It is impossible to accept Buddhism unless you affirm the Buddha’s enlightenment and the existence of Nirvana. In the same way, to accept Yoga, you must affirm your own infinite standing in creation. From the perspective of everyday life, this seems like too much to swallow.

But nothing about the ideal life is a belief akin to religious beliefs. What’s at stake is reality. Beliefs pertain to how you feel about reality. Yoga declares as a fact that every human being is embedded in a field of infinite potential. By squeezing our infinite potential down into small, manageable compartments, we are guilty only of being part of the mainstream of human beings.

But Yoga doesn’t care about the mainstream or about how you have lived in the past. In the worldview of Yoga, the infinite is always with us; in fact, it is our source. Nothing we do to squeeze our lives down to a manageable size has the slightest effect on reality, and the highest reality is what Royal Yoga is ultimately all about.


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Besides the well-known symptoms—like constant thirst and a frequent need to urinate—here are less obvious symptoms that could be warning signs of diabetes.

Depending on what type of diabetes you have, it can take anywhere from weeks to years for symptoms to develop. While type 1 diabetes symptoms can appear in just a few weeks or months, symptoms of type 2 diabetes can take several years to develop.

While your symptoms may be typical, like increased thirst and urination, there are also more unusual symptoms of diabetes you may have, like gum disease and hearing changes. 

Receiving a diagnosis as soon as possible means that you can start managing your diabetes sooner, reducing the risks of complications. So because the unusual diabetes symptoms may be disease warning signs, it is important to know what they are.

Unusual Diabetes Symptoms

At the time of diagnosis, people may have the more classic symptoms of diabetes like fatigue, increased urination, and excessive thirst and hunger. But there are several other symptoms of diabetes that might be warning signs of the condition but that seem less obvious.


Periodontitis is a serious form of gum disease where the gums pull away from the tooth. This can cause teeth to loosen or fall out.

Periodontitis is two to three times more common in people with diabetes than in those without. The gum disease is not only more common, but it’s also likely to progress more quickly and be more severe among those with diabetes.

The relationship appears to be a two-way street: while diabetes can worsen periodontitis, periodontitis can be a risk factor for high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), a defining factor of diabetes. In fact, periodontitis has been associated with higher A1C levels, which tell you your average blood sugar numbers over the past three months.

Chronic inflammation is the central feature in the progression of both diabetes and periodontal disease. People with diabetes and periodontitis have higher inflammatory markers.

The inflammation in diabetes may be a contributing factor as to why the bones that support your teeth are destroyed. That bone loss marks the most serious stage of periodontitis, when teeth can loosen or fall out.  

Skin Changes

Certain skin conditions can be the first sign that you have diabetes.

One example is acanthosis nigricans. This is a velvety, dark, often thick patch on the skin that commonly develops in the creases or folds of skin, such as the back of the neck, the axilla (where the arm connects to the shoulder), and the groin. These patches can also occur on the hands, feet, elbows, and knees.

An increase in insulin levels can cause acanthosis nigricans. Insulin is a hormone that helps move glucose (blood sugar) into cells for energy. Sometimes the cells resist the insulin and, in response, more insulin is produced. Increased insulin levels is an indication of insulin resistance, which is a precursor to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Other types of skin conditions that may be a warning sign of diabetes include:

  • Digital sclerosis: This appears as thick patches of skin that make the skin feel stiff. Most commonly, it develops on the back of the hand, but it can also be on the forehead, feet, and fingers. About a third of people with type 1 diabetes will have it.
  • Eruptive xanthomatosis: These bumps appear as firm, yellow, and pea-like. They have a red halo and can itch. They often appear on the feet, arms, buttocks, and back of hands. It is common among men with type 1 diabetes.  
  • Diabetic blisters: These are rare and look like a burn blister, but they usually don’t cause pain. The blisters can develop on the fingers, hands, toes, feet, and sometimes forearms. They clear up in a few weeks, typically without scarring.  
  • Necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum: These sores are usually large, deep, painful, and itchy. They start as a small raised red lump that can begin to appear like a shiny scar with a violet border. The condition—which is caused by blood vessel changes—is rare, with adult women with diabetes being the most likely to develop it.

Frequent Infections

People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing infections.

This can include bacterial infections like those around the nails or those of the hair follicles, as well as boils and styes (when the glands of the eyelids are infected). Different bacteria can cause these infections, but the most common is Staphylococcus (Staph).
Fungal infections can also be more common. Most often, these infections are caused by a fungus called Candida, a type of yeast. These infections can present as jock itch, ringworm, vaginal yeast infection, and athlete’s foot.
Frequent infections may occur due to a combination of high blood sugar levels creating an environment for bacteria to grow and weakening immune response.
One of the most common sites for infection in diabetes is the urinary tract. This can be because diabetes impairs the immune system or because the diabetes has affected nerves to a degree where the bladder no longer completely empties.

Vision Changes

Certain vision changes can be a sign that your blood sugars are elevated. Excess sugar can damage the small vessels in the eye and cause changes in fluid, affecting vision clarity.

Some of the earliest vision changes can include blurry vision or having trouble reading or seeing objects that are far away. If not addressed, the vision changes can worsen and you might see dark, floating spots or streaks.

Hearing Changes

People with diabetes are also at increased risk of hearing loss. In fact, diabetes doubles your risk of hearing loss. This is due to nerve damage in your ears that high or low blood sugar can cause.

Long-term high blood sugar may damage small blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear. Long-term low blood sugar can damage the way nerve signals are sent from the inner ear to your brain.

Bed Wetting in Children 

Children who are already potty-trained and able to sleep through the night without accidents may start wetting the bed a couple times a week. This situation is known as nocturnal enuresis and could be a sign of an underlying condition like type 1 diabetes.

Nocturnal enuresis is actually a typical symptom of type 1 diabetes in children, but one that parents or caregivers might not automatically connect to a potential type 1 diabetes diagnosis. Because the onset of type 1 diabetes symptoms in youth can be sudden and, if not treated promptly, become a medical emergency, it is an important symptom to note.

The increase in urination is usually accompanied by increased thirst and hunger as well as weight loss.

A Quick Review

Increased thirst, hunger, and urination are some of the symptoms most commonly associated with diabetes. But there are many other symptoms that someone with diabetes can experience that you might not automatically tie to the disease. Some of the more unusual symptoms of diabetes include gum disease, dark patches of skin, and an increase in infections.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of diabetes—especially if you are at higher risk for the disease—visit a healthcare provider to figure out what’s causing your symptoms. Early detection and treatment is important for improving your quality of life, reducing the risk of complications, and prolonging or preventing the progression of diabetes.


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