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Hypothermia Symptoms: What You Need to Know

Hypothermia is a serious condition that occurs when your body temperature drops below 95°F (35°C). It can affect your brain, heart, and other organs, and even lead to death if not treated promptly. In this blog post, we will explain what causes hypothermia, what are the signs and symptoms, how to diagnose and treat it, and how to prevent it. We will also answer some frequently asked questions about hypothermia.

What causes hypothermia?

Hypothermia is usually caused by exposure to cold weather or immersion in cold water. However, other factors can also contribute to hypothermia, such as:

  • Wearing inadequate or wet clothing
  • Staying in the cold for too long
  • Having a low body fat or muscle mass
  • Being elderly or very young
  • Consuming alcohol or drugs
  • Having certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid problems, or trauma
  • Taking certain medications, such as antidepressants or antipsychotics

What are the signs and symptoms of hypothermia?

The signs and symptoms of hypothermia vary depending on the severity of the condition. They may include:

  • Shivering, which is the first and most common sign
  • Cold and pale skin
  • Numbness or tingling in the limbs
  • Slurred speech or mumbling
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Drowsiness or low energy
  • Weak pulse or slow breathing
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • Bright red skin (in infants)
  • Loss of consciousness

It is important to note that hypothermia can impair your judgment and awareness, so you may not realize that you are in danger. Also, shivering may stop as hypothermia progresses, which does not mean that you are getting better.

How is hypothermia diagnosed and treated?

Hypothermia is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. If you suspect that someone has hypothermia, you should:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number
  • Move the person to a warm place if possible
  • Remove any wet clothing and cover the person with dry blankets or coats
  • Monitor the person’s breathing and pulse
  • Perform CPR if the person is not breathing or has no pulse
  • Do not rub or massage the person’s skin, as this may cause further damage
  • Do not give the person alcohol, caffeine, or any medication, as this may worsen the condition

The diagnosis of hypothermia is based on the measurement of the core body temperature, which can be done by using a special thermometer that can be inserted in the rectum, esophagus, or bladder. The treatment of hypothermia depends on the severity of the condition and may include:

  • Blood rewarming, which involves circulating the person’s blood through a machine that warms it and returns it to the body
  • Airway rewarming, which involves providing the person with heated and humidified oxygen.
  • Intravenous therapy, which involves giving the person warm fluids through a vein.
  • Peritoneal lavage, which involves washing the abdominal cavity with warm fluids.

The goal of the treatment is to restore the normal body temperature and prevent any complications, such as frostbite, gangrene, heart problems, or organ failure.

How can hypothermia be prevented?

The best way to prevent hypothermia is to avoid exposure to cold temperatures or water. However, if you have to be in the cold, you should:

  • Wear warm and layered clothing that can protect you from wind, rain, and snow
  • Wear a hat, gloves, and socks that can keep your head, hands, and feet warm
  • Avoid overexertion, as this can make you sweat and lose heat
  • Stay hydrated and eat enough calories, as this can help you generate heat
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs, as this can impair your judgment and lower your body temperature
  • Check on your elderly or young family members, as they are more vulnerable to hypothermia
  • Have a survival kit with you, such as a blanket, a flashlight, a whistle, and a phone

FAQs about hypothermia

Here are some common questions and answers about hypothermia:

  • Q: What is the normal body temperature?
  • A: The normal body temperature is around 98.6°F (37°C), but it can vary slightly depending on the time of the day, the activity level, and the individual. A body temperature below 95°F (35°C) is considered hypothermia.
  • Q: What is the difference between hypothermia and frostbite?
  • A: Hypothermia is a condition that affects the whole body, while frostbite is a condition that affects specific parts of the body, such as the fingers, toes, nose, or ears. Frostbite occurs when the skin and the underlying tissues freeze due to cold exposure. Frostbite can cause pain, numbness, blisters, and tissue damage. Frostbite can occur along with hypothermia, or independently.
  • Q: Can hypothermia occur in warm weather?
  • A: Hypothermia can occur in warm weather if the person is exposed to water or wind that lowers their body temperature. For example, a person who falls into a lake or a river, or a person who is wet and in a windy place, can develop hypothermia even if the air temperature is above freezing.
  • Q: How long does it take to recover from hypothermia?
  • A: The recovery time from hypothermia depends on the severity of the condition, the treatment received, and the presence of any complications. Mild hypothermia may take a few hours to recover, while severe hypothermia may take days or weeks to recover. Some people may have permanent damage to their organs or limbs due to hypothermia.
  • Q: Can animals get hypothermia?
  • A: Yes, animals can get hypothermia, especially those that are not adapted to cold environments, such as pets or livestock. Animals can show similar signs and symptoms of hypothermia as humans, such as shivering, lethargy, and weakness. If you suspect that your animal has hypothermia, you should contact your veterinarian or animal shelter for advice.


Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition that occurs when your body temperature drops below 95°F (35°C). It can cause various signs and symptoms, such as shivering, confusion, and loss of consciousness. It can be caused by exposure to cold weather or water, or by other factors, such as alcohol or medications. It can be diagnosed by measuring the core body temperature, and treated by warming the body and preventing complications. It can be prevented by wearing warm clothing, staying dry, and avoiding cold exposure. If you or someone you know has hypothermia, you should seek medical help immediately.

We hope that this blog post has helped you understand more about hypothermia and its symptoms. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. Thank you for reading!

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