Hypothermia is a medical condition wherein the body's temperature drops to a low level. The heat escapes the body at a rapid rate than it should, resulting in a very cold state. Hypothermia could be a life threatening condition if not dealt with properly because vital organs such as the heart and the nervous system would cease to function properly below certain temperature.
What cause this sudden drop of body temperature?
When a person is subjected to very cold temperatures such as cold weather or water, hypothermia is triggered. Even a cold wind could bring about this condition if the person is unprotected.
One need not be subjected to outdoor cold temperatures to suffer from hypothermia. Elderly persons who have low tolerance for cold can suffer from hypothermia even if they are in the house.
A poorly heated home is one of the causes of indoor hypothermia. Shivering is usually the sign of mild hypothermia are usually less obvious. One could also experience an
I feel chilly. Is this hypothermia already?
How would you know if you are already suffering form hypothermia? There are several symptoms that can be observed.
• Lack of energy
• Constant shivering
• Increased heart rate
• Loss of consciousness
• Increased blood pressure
• Shallow and slow breathing
• Difficulty in making sound decisions
• Feeling of numbness on the hands and fingers
• A person suffering from hypothermia is usually apathetic
What to do?
Mild hypothermia can usually be treated at home. For mild hypothermia, the patient needs to be warmed up immediately. Use thick blankets and a properly heated room to alleviate the symptoms.
Extreme hypothermia can lead to unconsciousness and even death. In extreme cases, call medical assistance immediately, and at the same time warm up the person with blankets and sufficient heat. It could save the person's life.
Who are at risk of experiencing hypothermia?
There are several risk factors that determine hypothermia
• Elderly persons are less likely to tolerate cold temperatures. As we age, the body's ability to regulate temperature weakens.
• Infants lose heat faster than adults, making them more at risk of hypothermia. They usually have a less efficient body heat mechanism to deal with colder temperatures.
• People with mental problems usually do not dress appropriately for a cold weather. They often cannot distinguish too if they are in extreme cold.
• People who abuse alcohol and drugs are at risk. Alcohol might seem to make your body feel warm at first, but the truth is, alcohol dilates the blood vessels, resulting in a rapid loss of heat in the body.
• Certain medical conditions such as stroke, poor nutrition, burns, spinal cord injuries and dehydration impair the body's ability to heat itself up.
• Medications such as anti-depressants and sedatives lower the body's ability to generate heat and warm it up.
Other Complications of Hypothermia
- Hypothermia patients can also experience frostbites and gangrene.
- Chilblains, or the damage to the small blood vessels in the hands and feet, are often observed.