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Hypothermia : Causes-Symptoms-Diagnosis-Treatment

 What is Hypothermia?

Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can generate heat. A normal body temperature is around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). Hypothermia (hi-poe-THRU-me-uh) can occur as your body temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius).

What is Hypothermia?

When your body temperature drops below a certain point, your heart's nervous system and other organs can't function normally. If left untreated, this condition can lead to the failure of your heart and respiratory system, which could eventually lead to death.

Hypothermia is a result of being exposed to cold weather or being underwater in cold water. Primary treatments for hypothermia are methods that will warm the body back to a normal temperature.

Medical terms

  • Hypothermia is because of extended exposures to very cold temperatures. When exposed to bloodless temperatures, your frame starts to lose warmth faster than it’s produced. Lengthy exposures will sooner or later expand your body’s stored electricity, which ends up in decreased frame temperature.

  • Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the sufferer unable to suppose surely or circulate nicely. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous, due to the fact a person might not realize that it’s happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.

  • While hypothermia is maximum probably at very bloodless temperatures, it could arise even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if someone becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in bloodless water.

Symptoms Hypothermia

When the temperature starts to drop, you are likely to begin shivering because your body is trying to warm itself.

Signs and symptoms of hypothermia include: - shivering - a rapid heart rate - feeling cold all over

  • Shivering

  • Slurred speech or mumbling

  • Slow, shallow breathing

  • Weak pulse

  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination

  • Drowsiness or very low energy

  • Confusion or memory loss

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Bright red, cold skin (in infants)

Someone who is experiencing hypothermia usually does not realize that he or she is ill because the symptoms often develop gradually. Additionally, the confused thinking that accompanies hypothermia prevents self-awareness. This can also lead to risky behavior.

If you are feeling sick, you should see a doctor.

Call 911 or your local emergency number if you suspect someone has hypothermia.

If someone is injured and needs emergency help, be gentle as you move them. Don't use too much force, or the person's heart may start to race uncontrollably. Remove their wet clothes and replace them with warm dry clothing.

Causes Hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can generate it. The most common causes of hypothermia are exposure to cold weather conditions or cold water. But prolonged exposure to any environment colder than your body can lead to hypothermia if you are not appropriately dressed. I can't control the conditions.

Hypothermia can happen when specific conditions are met. These conditions include being cold and wet.

  • Wearing clothes that are not warm enough in cold weather conditions

  • Staying out in the cold too long

  • If you get wet and can't quickly get out of your clothes or move to a warm, dry location, you may be experiencing hypothermia.

  • If you fall into the water, it means you got wet in a boating accident.

  • Living in a house that's too cold is either because the heating or air conditioning is not working well or it's too cold outside.

How your body loses heat

Your body loses heat through different means, including the following:

  • Radiated heat.Most heat loss occurs due to the release of heat from unprotected parts of your body.

  • Direct contact. If you're in direct contact with something very cold, such as cold water or the ground, your body heat will be lost much faster than if you were in cold air. This is because water is very good at transferring heat from your body; this means that your body heat is lost much faster in cold water than in cold air. If your clothes are wet, they will dry much faster.

  • Wind.Wind removes your body's heat by blowing away the thin layer of warm air on your skin. A wind chill factor is important in causing how much heat is lost.

Risk factors Hypothermia

Risk factors for hypothermia include:

  • Exhaustion.When you are tired, your tolerance for cold decreases.

  • Older age.As people age, their ability to regulate their body temperature and to feel cold may diminish. Some older adults may not be able to communicate when they are cold or move to a warm location if they do feel cold.

  • Very young age.Children lose heat faster than adults do. This means that they may not be able to stay warm as easily, and they may be more likely to ignore the cold because they are having too much fun or because they do not have the judgment to dress properly for cold weather or to get out of the cold when they should.

  • Mental problems. People with a mental illness, dementia, or other conditions that interfere with judgment may not dress appropriately for the weather or understand the risks of cold weather. People with dementia are more likely to wander from home or get lost easily, which can lead to them being stranded outside in cold or wet weather. The weather is changing.

  • Alcohol and drug use.Alcohol may make you feel warm inside. However, because alcohol expands blood vessels, it causes your body to lose heat more quickly. The body's natural response to cold, known as shivering, is lessened in people who have been drinking.
    If you are intoxicated and pass out in cold weather, you may develop hypothermia. In addition, using alcohol or recreational drugs can impair your judgment about the need to stay warm or wear clothes in cold weather.

  • Certain medical conditions.Some health problems affect your body's ability to regulate its temperature. These include an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), poor nutrition, anorexia nervosa, diabetes, stroke, severe arthritis, Parkinson's disease, trauma, and spinal cord injuries.

  • Medications.Certain drugs can affect the body's ability to maintain its temperature. For example, antidepressant medications, antipsychotics, narcotic pain medications, and sedatives can all have this effect.

In cold weather, the risk of frostbite is greater than you think. To avoid frostbite, be sure to wear warm clothes, keep your hands and feet warm, and stay inside if it's cold outside.

When winter is long and cold, your risk of injury from cold weather increases.

Frostbite is a condition in which the tissues inside your hand or wrist freeze. Dr. Sanj Kakar Mayo Clinic Orthopedic hand and wrist surgeon says it's more common than many people think.

Frostbite is a condition that can occur when the temperature is below 5 degrees Fahrenheit with little windchill. Dr. Kakar explains it.

If the windchill falls below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, frostbite can occur within half an hour.

Frostbite can occur on your nose, ears, fingers, and toes.

Initially, with mild forms of the disease, you may experience pain and numbness at the tips of your fingers. The skin may change color, turning red, white, or blue. You may also develop blisters on your hands. This can be a very serious injury.

If decoupage doesn't work, surgery may be necessary to remove the tissue.

So who's most at risk?

People who are most at risk for frostbite are those with diabetes, elderly people, or very young children. Also, if you are dehydrated.

Complications Hypothermia

People who become hypothermic due to exposure to cold weather or cold water are also at risk for other injuries caused by the cold, such as:

  • Freezing of body tissues (frostbite)

  • If blood flow to a wound is interrupted, tissue will die. This is called gangrene.

Prevention Hypothermia

Staying warm in cold weather

Before you go outside in the cold, remember the advice that follows with the acronym COLD: Cover overexerted layers of skin with dry clothes.

  • Cover.Wear a hat or other covering to keep your head, face, and neck warm. Use gloves instead of hands if you do not want your hands to get too hot.

  • Overexertion.Stay cool by avoiding activities that make you sweat a lot. Wearing wet clothes in cold weather will cause you to lose body heat more quickly.

  • Layers.Wear clothing that is loose-fitting and made from lightweight materials. Outerwear should be made from tightly woven material that is water repellent. Inner layers should be made of wool or polypropylene, which will hold body heat better than cotton does.

  • Dry.Stay as dry as possible. Take care to stay dry while outside in the snow. It is important to remove wet clothing as quickly as possible. Be especially careful to keep your hands and feet dry; it's easy for snow to get inside clothing.

Keeping children safe from the cold

To prevent children from becoming too cold when they are outside in the winter: Stay inside if it is cold outside, dress warmly, and keep your head and hands warm.

  • dress infants and young children in clothes that are one layer more than what an adult would wear in the same conditions.

  • If your children start shivering, it's a good idea to bring them inside. That's the first sign that they're experiencing hypothermia.

  • Make sure children come inside frequently to warm up when they're playing outside.

  • Babies shouldn't sleep in a cold room.

Winter car safety

Whenever you're traveling in bad weather, make sure someone knows where you're going and when you're expected to arrive. That way, if you get into trouble on your way, emergency responders will know where to look for your car.

It's a good idea to have emergency supplies in your car in case you get stranded. These supplies may include several blankets, matches, candles, a clean can of water, a first-aid kit, dry or canned food, a can opener, tow rope, compass, and bag of sand. If you get stuck in the snow, try using cat litter or gravel to provide traction. If possible, take along a cellphone.

If you get stranded, make sure you have everything you need with you. Get close to each other and stay covered. Run your car for 10 minutes each hour to keep it warm. Make sure the window is slightly open and the exhaust pipe isn't covered in snow.


Don't drink alcohol to avoid risks of hypothermia.

  • If you're going to be outside in cold weather, dress warmly!

  • If you're boating

  • Before going to bed on cold nights

Cold-water safety

You don't have to be very cold to experience hypothermia. Any water colder than the normal body temperature causes your body to lose heat. The following tips may help increase your survival time if you accidentally fall into cold water:

  • Wear a life jacket.If you plan to ride in a watercraft, wear a life jacket. A life jacket will help you conserve energy and stay warm while swimming in cold water. Keep a whistle attached to your life jacket in case of emergency.

  • Get out of the water if possible.Don't stay in the water too long. Try to climb onto a capsized boat or find a floating object to get out of the water.

  • Don't try to swim if you're not close to safety.Do not swim if there is a boat or life jacket nearby. Swimming will use up energy and might shorten one's survival time.

  • Make sure to position your body so you are minimizing heat loss.To reduce heat loss, hold your knees close to your chest and keep your torso straight. If you're wearing a life jacket that turns your face down, place your legs tightly together.Bend your arms and legs in the opposite direction, so that your body forms a "V." Then tilt your head back.

  • Huddle with others.If you fall into cold water and are with other people, try to stay warm by surrounding yourselves with each other in a tight circle.

  • Don't remove your clothing.Don't take off your clothes while you're in the water - it will help keep you warm. Button and zip up your clothes, and if possible, cover your head. Remove your clothes only once you are safely out of the water and can take proper measures to stay dry and warm.

Help for people most at risk

If you are at risk of hypothermia, or if you know someone who is, community outreach programs and social support services can be very helpful. If you are in danger or if you know someone who is, please contact your local public health department. There is a health office where you can get services such as the following:

  • Assistance for paying heating bills

  • In order to check in to see if you and your home are warm enough, a service will be provided to you. This will help make sure you and your home are comfortable during cold weather.

  • Homeless shelters

  • There are safe and warm daytime locations where you can go during cold weather.

Diagnosis Hypothermia

The diagnosis of hypothermia is usually based on a person's physical signs and the conditions in which they were found. Blood tests can also help confirm hypothermia and its severity.

  1. Blood count

  2. Blood typing

If the symptoms are mild, such as confusion, lack of coordination, and speech problems, a diagnosis may not be immediately apparent.

Treatment Hypothermia

If someone appears to be experiencing hypothermia, seek immediate medical attention. Follow these guidelines for treating hypothermia.

First-aid tips

  • Be gentle.When helping someone who is suffering from hypothermia, be gentle and limit movements to only those that are necessary. Do not massage or rub the person. Excessive vigorous or jarring movements may cause cardiac arrest.

  • Move the person out of the cold.If you can't move the person to a warm and dry location, try to keep them as warm and dry as possible. If that's not possible, cover them with a cold and wind-resistant shield. Try to keep them in a horizontal position if possible.

  • Remove wet clothing.If the person is wearing wet clothes, remove them. If necessary, cutaway clothing so the person will not move around too much.

  • Cover the person with blankets.Wrap the person in several layers of dry blankets or cloth. Cover only their face, leaving their head free.

  • Wrap the person's body in a blanket to keep them warm.If you're outside, lay the person down on their back on a warm surface, like a blanket.

  • Monitor breathing.If you see a person who is severely hypothermic, they may appear unconscious and with no pulse or breathing. If the person's breathing has stopped or appears dangerously low, then begin CPR immediately if you are trained.

  • Provide warm beverages.If the person is alert and able to drink, provide them with a warm sweet beverage that doesn't contain alcohol. This might help warm their body.

  • Use warm, dry compresses.If someone gets a head injury, they should put a warm compress on the head and around the neck and chest. They can also use a makeshift compress made from a plastic bottle or a towel that has been warmed in the dryer.
    Do not apply a warm compress to the arms or legs. Applying heat to the arms and legs will cause the body's core temperature to drop, which can be fatal.

  • Don't apply direct heat.Do not use hot water or a heating pad to warm the person. The extreme heat can cause skin damage or even worse, an irregular heartbeat that could lead to a heart attack.

Medical treatment

If someone is experiencing hypothermia, emergency medical care may involve one of the following methods to warm the person up:

  • Passive rewarming.If someone is experiencing mild hypothermia, they can be covered with heated blankets and given warm liquids to drink.

  • Blood rewarming.To warm blood, it may be drawn and circulated through the body several times. A common way to do this is by using a hemodialysis machine, which filters blood in those with poor kidney function. In some cases, heart bypass surgery may also be necessary.

  • Warm intravenous fluids.A warm intravenous solution of salt water may be put into a vein to warm the blood.

  • Airway rewarming.The use of humidified oxygen can warm the airways and help raise the body's temperature.

  • Irrigation.A warm saltwater solution may be used to warm certain areas of the body, such as around the lungs or the abdomen. The warm liquid is introduced through tubes (catheters)

Hypothermia : Causes-Symptoms-Diagnosis-Treatment

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