Versão em Português

Do alcoholic drinks make you warm in the cold weather?

10 Mai 2016

Many people believe that drinking alcohol can help warm the body. Truth or lie?

The human body is capable of triggering several mechanisms to compensate for external temperature variations and maintain body temperature within the minimum possible oscillation. For example, sweating is a way of losing heat in the summer, just as shivering is a way of producing heat in the winter.

It is common for people to believe that drinking alcohol is helpful during the colder seasons to help the body warm up. Truth or lie? Lie. Although it seems that the body is warmer, what happens is a deflection of heat from vital organs to the most superficial region. When consuming alcoholic beverages, vasodilation occurs, in which more blood and heat are taken to the skin and extremities, with a consequent increase in the thermal sensation. In this way, it seems that the body is heating, but the heat is easily dissipated, not only by the vasodilation itself, but by the behavior of the person, who, when noticing the increase in heat, becomes unprotected and even more exposed to the cold.

In Brazil, the lack of this information may not mean much in terms of public health, since winter is generally mild, but at lower temperatures, the use of alcohol, especially in excess, can be lethal, by increasing the risk of hypothermia (cooling of the body with loss of the ability to exert the necessary regulation). So, during the winter, be aware of this erroneous belief to prevent alcohol abuse and successfully protect yourself from the cold!

Additional Info

  • Referências:

    Berko J, et al. Deaths attributed to heat, cold, and other weather events in the United States, 2006–2010. National Health Statistics Reports, No. 76. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014).

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