Are ice packs a good way to beat the heat?
May 29, 2006 2:06 PM   Subscribe

Are ice packs a good way to beat the heat?

Ive heard 2 ideas on the subject. For: ice packs cool your blood which circulates through your body and cools you down. Against: ice packs trick your body into thinking its cooler than it actually is.
Im picturing myself wearing some icy wristbands or maybe even one of those cooling vests...
posted by GleepGlop to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
I use ice packs when it's hot - makes me feel more comfortable and that's all I care about.
posted by Amizu at 2:09 PM on May 29, 2006

a lot of people with MS use them. heat worsens the disease.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 2:32 PM on May 29, 2006

I think they give ice packs to people suffering from heat stroke, so it can't be that bad for you. But maybe switch it up a bit so you don't have an ice pack on the same patch of skin for prolonged periods. Too much of a good thing and all.
posted by reformedjerk at 2:56 PM on May 29, 2006

Ice packs used at key times are extremely useful. Ice is good.

Farther afield, the Core Control device chills your internal temperature for improved athletic performance.
posted by frogan at 3:26 PM on May 29, 2006

Good placement points for an ice pack or two are the nape of your neck, the wrists(Like the CoreControl, above), insides of your upper thighs - Wherever your blood comes near the surface.
posted by Orb2069 at 3:51 PM on May 29, 2006

Even more effective is an ice bath. Use it only under supervision, since you can get overchilled quickly.

For those who don't need to cool down immediately and drastically, a bathtub with water slightly above room temperature is a fine way to beat the heat.

The idea, believe it or not, comes from an episode of Hill Street Blues.
posted by KRS at 4:14 PM on May 29, 2006

Response by poster: Yeah I read about that core control thing. I was thinking, they were kind of reinventing the wheel with that one, Im not sure how its different from an ice pack...
posted by GleepGlop at 4:25 PM on May 29, 2006

I lived through 40 degree celcius heat (104 F) last summer, and I survived by wearing damp facewashers on my head, and neck. The damp cooled me down without being too shocking to the system. Also keeping feet in water is good.

I've found that cooling the areas like the head, wrists, neck, and feet, where the blood flows close to the surface of the skin keeps you cooler.
posted by jonathanstrange at 6:29 PM on May 29, 2006

Im not sure how its different from an ice pack...

It's a heat sink, like the one in your computer.

The new device works like this: The palm of the hand, a natural radiator point, is placed over a water-cooled steel plate inside a vacuum chamber. The suction then draws the warm blood from the body's core out to the palm, where the plate cools it. The cooler blood then recirculates to the body's core.

"We can extract heat three to five times faster than any other technique that is available today for extracting heat," said Julian Nikolchev, CEO of AVAcore Technologies of Palo Alto, Calif., which markets Rapid Thermal Exchange.

The system is believed to be better than cooling off with a bucket of ice. Biologists say ice would be counterproductive because extreme cold causes blood vessels to contract, restricting blood flow.

posted by frogan at 9:19 PM on May 29, 2006

Best answer: When the skin is exposed to excessively cold stimuli, even when the subject is in a hot environment, the surface blood vessels constrict. In most circumstances, using the ice will backfire, and overall body temperature is increased. For example, when football players have signs of heat stroke, they were once taken off the field and put into air-conditioned rooms. However, studies indicate that putting the overheated person into a cold room made their internal organs heat up even more as hot blood was shunting inside- hotter than what it was when the athlete was playing on the field. After several deaths, the protocol was changed.

On the other hand, athletes are sometimes put into ice baths to cool off for training purposes, but it is a very traumatic experience that does work. Ice baths can lower body temperature from normal to sub-normal, but are not good for lowering from high back to normal.

It is best to use a mildly cool device, one that would cool the body but not trigger vasoconstriction. I would suggest using a damp cloth at these points: the face, the soles of the feet, and the palms of the hand. Thermla imaging studies indicate that these are the places that radiate heat the most when someone is exercising. (Also, they are places where polar bears, monkeys and all sorts of animals don't have fur.)

By the way, they tested that Rapid Thermal Exchange device on some college students a few years ago, and I was in that study.
posted by alex3005 at 10:38 PM on May 29, 2006

you know what's better than an ice pack to beat the heat? Hot tea. The hot liquid makes you sweat, and the sweat cools you off from the inside out. Tried and true method used by millions of middle eastern people who aren't allowed to strip down to bathing suits to beat the heat.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 11:29 PM on May 29, 2006

Or something I do:
1. Wet towel.
2. Put towel in freezer for 30 minutes.
3. Lay on towel.
posted by azuma at 1:18 AM on May 30, 2006

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