Can cold air really choke someone to death?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by GaiaGirl95, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

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    120 mph with an air temp of -34 F with no face protection? You are very lucky person or did you lose your face to frost bite!
     
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  3. superstring01 Moderator

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    That . . . . seems unlikely. 120mph is exponentially faster and colder than 0 degrees F at 50mph. Wait, did you have a skin craft after?
     
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  5. GaiaGirl95 Banned Banned

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    For how long, and what was the ambient temperature at the time?
     
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  7. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    About five minutes. The ambient temperature was -34F; windspeed 120mph, altitude 23,000 feet.

    A former girlfriend of mine spent days at a time breathing air at about -25C. Her story is here if you want to read it:

    http://www.amazon.com/K2-Adventure-Press-Heidi-Howkins/dp/079226424X
     
  8. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Felt like that for a while afterwards - but no one was injured, mainly due to the short duration. It was during the 2002 world record attempts in Eloy, Arizona. We went to 23,000 feet early in the morning for our first attempt at the day. (It was in January.) It was -34F at exit. I exited the plane, breathed in, breathed out and - my visor iced over completely. I had to pull the visor out of the helmet to be able to see to continue the dive, and it felt like someone was going at my face with a belt sander. Within 5 minutes we had descended to a more reasonable temperature of about 20F at 3000 feet.

    About 100 people on the dive had a similar problem, and either opened their visor, took it off completely or took off their helmets. We switched to all goggles after that, which was a lot more painful but which were less likely to ice over. That was the worst day; most days exit temps were -10 to -15F.
     
  9. rpenner Fully Wired Valued Senior Member

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    You know, if GaiaGirl95 was a person who rationally believed the claim that the thymus swells up in cold or sudden fright with the potential to choke a person, this would be tantamount to a request that I attempt to kill myself. Fortunately, I merely consider GaiaGirl95 an irrational, ignorant denialist troll and not a murderess.
     
  10. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

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    11,169
    I always considered people who jump out of planes for fun to be crazy. Doing it in January is crazierest.

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  11. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    I often thought that during those two weeks . . . .
     
  12. GaiaGirl95 Banned Banned

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    5 minutes really isn't long. The article implies the man who died was out to do chores, so it was longer than 5 minutes.
     
  13. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    19,487
    So go with my former girlfriend, who spent days breathing air at -25C during her Himalayan climbs. Neither her nor any of her expedition died due to their throats swelling up.
     
  14. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

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    23,049
    It is possible to go into respiratory arrest from cold air but it doesn't have to be exceptionally cold, person just has to have asthma induced by cold air and the air just has to be cold enough to trigger it, doesn't even have to be below 0 for this. If its treated properly however it shouldn't kill you
     
  15. rpenner Fully Wired Valued Senior Member

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    You don't have an articulated hypothesis, so your post hoc dismissal of some evidence as "not good enough" lacks persuasive power. There is no documentation of the farmer's exposure time to cold and you ignore the non-death football players, coaches, and fans.

    But the mechanism of asthma is bronchoconstriction, not thymic swelling.
     
  16. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, I didn't mean to say that whats been pushed in this thread is right, just pointing out that yes people could die because of respiratory failure when exposed to cold air
     
  17. GaiaGirl95 Banned Banned

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    But can extreme cold (below -2F degrees, by definition) cause thymus swelling?
     
  18. rpenner Fully Wired Valued Senior Member

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    4,833
    Actual medical textbooks from this century, like "Thymus Gland Pathology: Clinical, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Features" say no. They explain the structure and known functions of the thymus is great detail. Swelling in reaction to fear or cold (or hot, or ingestion of cheese, or web surfing, etc.) is nowhere found. Some things that will cause the thymus to enlarge over time (days, not minutes) are cancer (duh), sarcoidosis and steroid administration. Normal thymuses of up to 50 grams are not unheard of.
    Old ideas about thymuses killing people seem to be completely wrong:
    (page 9)
     
  19. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

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    11,169
    Well rpenner, that should put and end to this; and yet I fear it may not...
     
  20. MacGyver1968 Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke Valued Senior Member

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    I have a friend who lives in the Yukon...where it regularly gets to -40f. She raises horses, and spends quite a bit of time in the cold, feeding the horses..pitching hay...etc. She's still alive and kicking.

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  21. kwhilborn Banned Banned

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    Try breathing now Han Solo.

    The flaw in the OP is they make no reference to how long the person was exposed to sub zero temperatures. Temperatures do not even need to be freezing to kill people if exposure is ample enough.

    I see lots of arguments, but without knowing the time involved it is a pointless thread.

    Despite arguments above, cooling of the airways can cause broncho-constriction or more likely damage your lungs and can also cause asthma.

    Also...

    http://www.snowbikers.com/articles/cold_air.html
    Larsson K, Ohlsen P, Larsson L, Malmberg P, Rydstrom P-O, Ulriksen H 1993. High
    prevalence of asthma in cross country skiers. BMJ 307, 1326-1329.

    Larsson L, Hemmingsson P, Boethius G 1994. Self reported obstructive airway symptoms are common in young cross-country skiers. Scand J Med Sci Sport 4, 124-127

    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174348
     

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