What is Hypothermia?

Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when your body temperature drops below 95°F. Major complications can result from this drop in temperature, including death. Hypothermia is particularly dangerous because it affects your ability to think clearly. This can decrease your likelihood of seeking medical help. It has two main types of causes. It classically occurs from exposure to cold weather and cold water immersion, also occurring from any condition that decreases heat production or increases heat loss.

Symptoms of Hypothermia

The most common symptoms are:

  • Excessive shivering
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slowed speech
  • Clumsiness
  • Stumbling
  • Confusion

Hypothermia
What Causes Hypothermia?

Cold weather is the primary cause. When your body experiences extremely cold temperatures, it loses heat more quickly than it can produce it. Staying in cold water too long can also cause these effects.

The inability to produce adequate body heat is extremely dangerous. Your body temperature can drop quickly and significantly.

Exposure to colder-than-normal temperatures can also cause hypothermia. For example, if you step into an extremely cold, air-conditioned room immediately after being outside, you risk losing too much body heat in a short period.

Treatment for Hypothermia

  • It is a potentially life-threatening condition that needs emergency medical attention.
  • If the hypothermic person is unconscious or has no pulse or signs of breathing, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) should be given.
  • CPR needs to be continued, in the absence of signs of breathing or a pulse, until paramedics arrive or the person is taken to a hospital.
  • In cases of advanced hypothermia, hospital treatment is required to rewarm the core temperature.
  • Hypothermia treatment may include warmed IV fluids, heated and humidified oxygen, peritoneal lavage (internal “washing” of the abdominal cavity), and other measures.
  • Complications during recovery can include pneumonia, heart arrhythmias, ventricular fibrillation, cardiac arrest (a sudden stopping of the heartbeat), and death.

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