Hypothermia develops if the body becomes too cold and loses heat rapidly than what the body can produce. The condition can develop if an individual is exposed to cold water, air, wind or rain. It is important to note that the body temperature can drop drastically to temperatures of 50 degrees F or even lower in wet and windy weather. If an individual has a mild case of hypothermia, home treatment is enough to restore the body temperature to normal.
What are the indications of hypothermia?
The initial indications include the following:
- Pale, cold or bluish-gray skin
- Poor judgement
- Lack of interest or concern
- Slurred speech
- Minimal unsteadiness with balance or while walking
- Numbness of the hands and fingers and difficulty in performing tasks
The late symptoms include the following:
- Slow pulse rate
- Coldness of the body trunk
- Stiff muscles
- Shallow and slow breathing
- Sleepiness or weakness
- Loss of consciousness
- Shivering that stops if the body temperature drops below 90 degrees F
What will happen to the individual?
Hypothermia is a medical emergency that can rapidly lead to loss of consciousness and death if heat loss progresses. It is vital to be familiar with the symptoms and seek treatment promptly.
Those who spend time outdoors such as skiers or hikers will experience a drop in the body temperature to low levels before others will notice that there is something wrong. If an individual starts to shiver violently, stumble or could no longer respond to questions, it indicates that hypothermia has developed and you should warm him/her quickly.
Who are at risk?
Many healthy individuals with mild to moderate hypothermia can recover fully without lasting injury. The recovery is harder among infants and elderly, sick or inactive adults.
The condition can also occur while indoors especially among infants and the elderly or sick adults who are not dressed warm enough.
Management of hypothermia
The treatment for hypothermia usually depends on the severity of the condition. The treatment for mild cases includes moving the individual out of the wet or cold environment, using warm blankets, hot water bottles and heaters.
For moderate to severe cases, hospitalization where special measures to warm the core body temperature is carried out.
Disclaimer / More Information
The information posted on this page on hypothermia is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage environmental emergencies including hypothermia, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Victoria, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Surrey, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.