Hypothermia is a fancy way of saying you have an abnormally low body temperature, like a core temperature of 95 or less. A body temperature that is too low for too long eventually leads to cardiac and respiratory failure. Either of which can cause your death.
Because hypothermia happens gradually in cold temperatures and affects your thinking, your confusion may prevent you from realizing you’re in serious trouble. Symptoms you may experience while you’re in a cold stupor:
- weak pulse
- cold/pale skin
- slow reactions
- extremity stiffness
- low blood pressure
- slow/slurred speech
- slow/shallow breathing
- lack of movement control
You can be hypothermic and not be shivering.
Exposure to extreme cold temperatures is not the only cause for shivering confusion hypothermia. Some medical conditions may affect your body’s ability to produce heat. As a result, hypothermia can be experienced in “less than extreme” cold temperatures. Some of these insufficient heat production conditions are:
- kidney disease
- multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson disease
- severe malnutrition
- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
The elderly are especially susceptible to hypothermia, so check in on them regularly during those cold winter months.
Treatment for mild cases of hypothermia is to apply warm, never hot, compresses to your neck, chest and groin. If feasible, remove your cold, wet clothes and get yourself under a warm blanket.
Leave your arms and legs out of your compress warm-up. Don’t want to force their cold blood back to your major organs, dropping your core temp even more. Also, never use hot water, heating pad or any other hot source to rewarm.
If you are giving first aide to another with hypothermia, then handle them carefully. Their cardiac arrest risk is sky high now.
In severe cases of hypothermia, hemodialysis medical treatment may be used. During this procedure, your cold blood is removed, rapidly warmed and then returned to your body.
A complete recovery can be expected if you are healthy and your incident of hypothermia was mild to moderate. And promote a healthy warm body by wearing temperature appropriate clothing.