Cold-related illness

Emergency Department visits, hospitalizations and deaths

People exposed to cold temperatures, winter weather conditions, or cold water can experience acute illness that may result in visiting the Emergency Department (ED), hospitalization, or even death.

Emergency Department (ED) visit data include patients that were treated in the ED and then either released or hospitalized for further care. ED visit data includes more patients than hospitalization data because in most cases people will visit the ED before becoming hospitalized.

Hospitalizations represent more severe cases of cold-related illness. People are hospitalized for cold-related illness due to extreme symptoms, including hypothermia, and complications from other health conditions.

Deaths are the most severe health outcome from cold exposure. Cold-related deaths are sometimes not identified as being related to cold, which means the data may underestimate cold-related deaths.