Cold-related illness emergency department visits

Cold-related illness emergency department visits in Minnesota:

Exposure to cold temperatures, winter weather conditions, or cold water can cause acute illness that may require an emergency department (ED) visit.

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 most people visit the ED first. 

ED visits due to cold-related illness are sometimes not identified as being related to the cold, which may mean that the data underestimate ED visits for cold-related illness.


Cold-related illness ED visit rates and winter temperature (October-April)

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Source: Minnesota Hospital Association. Average winter temperature data source: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Climate Trends. The break indicates a change in International Classification of Disease (ICD) coding from ICD-9 to ICD-10 on October 1st, 2015. Rates from 2000-2014 should not be compared to rates from 2015 onward.

Average winter temperature and ED visit rates vary from year to year. While lower winter temperatures may be associated with higher ED visit rates for cold-related illness, there are many other factors that may impact rates of cold-related illness.


Cold-related illness ED visits in Minnesota

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Source: Minnesota Hospital Association. The break indicates a change in International Classification of Disease (ICD) coding from ICD-9 to ICD-10 on October 1st, 2015. Rates from 2000-2014 should not be compared to rates from 2015 onward.

While the number and rate of cold-related illness ED visits vary from year to year, the overall trend shows an increase in cold-related illness ED visits from 2000-2014 and 2015-2018.


Cold-related illness ED visits in Minnesota, by sex

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Source: Minnesota Hospital Association. The break indicates a change in International Classification of Disease (ICD) coding from ICD-9 to ICD-10 on October 1st, 2015. Rates from 2000-2014 should not be compared to rates from 2015 onward.

Overall, more males are seen in the ED for cold-related illness than females.


Cold-related illness ED visits in Minnesota, by age and sex

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Source: Minnesota Hospital Association. 2014-2018.

While those in the very youngest and oldest age categories are considered the most sensitive to cold, this chart indicates that males age 15 to 34 have the highest rate of ED visits for cold-related illness. This differs from hospitalization data where males age 35 years and older have the highest rate of cold-related illness hospitalizations, potentially indicating more severe illness so they cannot be treated and released from the ED.

 

Related topics

Climate-related environmental health concerns 

Heat-related illness 

Carbon monoxide poisoning

 

Updated February 2021. Topic is updated when data become available.