Saturday, January 21, 2017

Poikilothermia, Weather or Not

Playing Scrabble to pass a cold January evening?  
Here’s a word to pick up at least 25 points: poikilothermia (that’s 3+1+1+5+1+1+1+1+4+1+1+3+1+1).  

The first half comes from the Greek word ποικίλος (-η, -ον; poikilos).  Among other things, it means “various,” “changeable,” or “manifold.”  Related to the Greek θερμός (-ή, -όν; thermos), the second half means “hot” or “warm.”  Put the two parts together and you have a reference to variable body temperature, a medical issue often to be associated with spinal cord injury.  
Poikilothermia is one of the lesser-known side effects of a disruption to the nervous system and its signals.  Essentially, it’s the inability to regulate your own body temperature.  Depending on the level and severity of a spinal cord injury, it can mean that your body may not be able to sweat and cool down on a warm day.  On the other end of the scale, piling on blankets in front of a heater might not be enough to combat chilly weather.  Poor regulation of body temperature is no laughing matter, since a serious case may potentially lead to hypothermia or hyperthermia.  It also can be unpredictable and isn’t always linked to the reading on the thermometer!
People have different ways of fighting poikilothermia.  A quick search brings up a lot of ideas, but here are some tips.
For another Scrabble tip, convert the word to poikilothermic.  

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