Hypothermia is a condition where the temperature of the body drops down. This condition usually happens due to severely cold temperatures especially during winter season. The temperature of the body is below 95 degrees F and when it becomes severe, it goes down to 82 degrees F. If the condition is not properly treated it will result to total malfunction of the heart, respiratory system, nervous system and eventually death.
Causes of hypothermia
- Wearing clothes not properly suited, not warm enough for the given cold weather condition.
- Incapable of getting out of wet clothes
- Staying in cold for long periods of times
- Falling accidentally in cold water
- Inadequate heating measures at home
- Feeling hungry
- Rapid breathing
- Difficulty speaking
- Coordination difficulties
- Weak pulse
- Fast heart rate
- Shallow breathing
- If the person was in the water move the affected person out of the cold gently, avoid excessive movement to prevent cardiac arrest. Avoid rubbing or massaging the body to prevent further damage and worsen the condition.
- Wrap the affected person in warm blankets, coats or towels whatever is available.
- Observe the breathing pattern of the person, if it is too slow; begin applying CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation immediately.
- Warming the blood, this is done by taking the blood out, warmed up and then circulated again in the body by using a dialysis machine. Another alternative is using warm intravenous solution of salt water which can be injected to warm the blood.
- Let the person sip warm, non-alcoholic and caffeine-free liquid such as warm milk, broth, soup and decaffeinated tea to prevent dehydration and is good for the condition. Consume carbohydrate rich foods to give energy into the bloodstream and build up heat as the body metabolizes it.
- Sip a cup of warm ginger tea to stimulate blood flow in the area and warm the body. Drink ginger tea 3-4 times every day with a gap of time of 30-45 minutes.
- Check the weather forecast before going out, but sometimes forecast can be wrong and be prepared for the situation. Set up a shelter.
- Wear appropriate clothing for the weather. Layering is a way of protecting the body from hypothermia. Wear several layers of clothing and bring extras just in case there is a need for them. Wear layers of socks and gloves to protect the hands and feet from frostbite. Avoid wearing cotton clothes in cold weather, it holds moisture against the body and makes the condition worse.
- Use sleeping bags for cold temperature.
- Keep the body dry as much as possible to prevent moisture such as sweating by overexerting the body. It causes dropping of body temperature and becomes cold again and worsens the condition.
The details posted on this page on hypothermia is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage this cold-related ailment, enroll in a first aid course with one of our training providers.