You may have heard the term, “Alcohol Blanket,” meaning that drinking alcohol makes you feel warmer in the cold. But depending on how cold the temperatures are and the amount of clothing being worn, drinking alcohol can be dangerous.
“The problem with the cold and alcohol is that it gives you the sensation that you’re warm, because it dilates blood vessels. But in fact, you’re actually not becoming warmer because you lose body heat more rapidly,” Dr. Michael Sassower explained. “You also don’t appreciate the cold because of the sedatives of the alcohol, so you might not realize that it’s much colder, putting you susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite.”
But alcohol isn’t the only drink that can cause you to lose body heat.
“Caffeine in the cold….If you’re going to drink something warm like coffee or tea then yes. That is going to give you some warmth. But in respect to caffeine in general, the problem with that is that caffeine is thermogenic,” said Dr. Sassower.”So all of a sudden, you are in the cold. If you drink a lot of caffeine, your body will generate a lot of heat, so you will lose heat faster. So that’s why the heart organizations recommend minimizing caffeine if you’re going to be outside for a long time, as well as alcohol.
Dr. Sassower says that everyone can be impacted by this, but some are more at risk than others.
“Often times patients with heart disease, they are already at risk,” said Dr. Sassower. “But if they don’t realize how long they are out there, they can subject themselves at more risk.”