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Hypothermia

Also called: Cold-related illness

Cold weather can affect your body in different ways. You can get frostbite, which is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Your body can also lose heat faster than you can produce it. That can cause hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. It can make you sleepy, confused, and clumsy. Because it happens gradually and affects your thinking, you may not realize you need help. That makes it especially dangerous. A body temperature below 95° F is a medical emergency and can lead to death if not treated promptly.

Anyone who spends much time outdoors in cold weather can get hypothermia. You can also get it from being cold and wet, or under cold water for too long. Babies and old people are especially at risk. Babies can get it from sleeping in a cold room.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Symptoms of Hypothermia

The following features are indicative of Hypothermia:
  • shivering
  • slurred speech or mumbling
  • slow or shallow breathing
  • weak pulse
  • clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • drowsiness or very low energy
  • confusion or memory loss
  • loss of consciousness
  • bright red or cold skin

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Common Causes of Hypothermia

The following are the most common causes of Hypothermia:
  • exposure to cold-weather conditions
  • staying out in the cold too long
  • unable to get out of wet clothes or move to a dry or warm location
  • falling into the water, as in boating accident
  • living in a house that is very cold

Risk Factors for Hypothermia

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Hypothermia:
  • exhaustion of body
  • older age
  • very young age
  • mental problems
  • alcohol and drug use

Prevention of Hypothermia

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Hypothermia. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • wear synthetic and wool clothes
  • cover the head properly
  • building a proper shelter in very cold and snowy conditions

Occurrence of Hypothermia

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Hypothermia cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Common between 1 - 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Hypothermia can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Hypothermia can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Hypothermia

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Hypothermia:
  • Blood test: To confirm hypothermia

Doctor for Diagnosis of Hypothermia

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Hypothermia:
  • Emergency medicine specialist

Complications of Hypothermia if untreated

Yes, Hypothermia causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Hypothermia is left untreated:
  • heart failure
  • respiratory system failure
  • can be fatal

Procedures for Treatment of Hypothermia

The following procedures are used to treat Hypothermia:
  • Passive rewarming: To cover patient with heated blankets and provide warm fluids
  • Blood rewarming: To warm blood with the use of a hemodialysis machine
  • Airway rewarming: To increase body temperature with humidified oxygen

Self-care for Hypothermia

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Hypothermia:
  • Wear protective clothes: Wear protective clothes or a hat to avoid exposure to cold
  • Stay dry: Keep the hands and feet dry to prevent from cold weather

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Hypothermia

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Hypothermia:
  • Intake of Fluids: Warm sweetened liquids to drink

Time for Treatment of Hypothermia

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Hypothermia to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • Within 1 day

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Hypothermia.
Frostbite
Winter Weather Emergencies

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