Hypothermia – Causes and Symptoms of Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a condition in which the internal body temperature goes down to 95 degree F and less. It occurs when the body loses heat faster than the heat it produces. The normal body temperature of a person is usually 98.6 F. When this temperature drops, the nervous system, heart and some other organs cannot work. It is fatal and can lead to failure of respiratory system and heart . The condition is caused mainly by exposure to cold temperature or immersing in cold water.

In 218 B.C, hypothermia condition has been a military problem. Half of the military forces of Hannibal died while crossing Pyrenees Alps because of cold temperatures. Now with the increasing popularity of winter sports, the condition has become a urban problem.

Causes of Hypothermia
Hypothermia is caused when the body exposes to cold water or cold weather conditions. Any condition that is colder than the body temperature leads to the condition. The conditions that cause hypothermia include:

  • Exposure to air conditioning areas. Older people and infants are affected mostly
  • Insufficient heating in the home
  • Accidental falls in cold water
  • Moving suddenly to a warm and dry place with wet clothes
  • Staying in cold weather for too long time
  • Wearing clothes that are not warm for the particular weather condition

Hypothermia condition can also cause when the body loses more heat than what it produces. The factors that aid in losing body heat include:

  • Wind – The blowing wind removes the heat from the body. It carries away thin layer of warm air present to the skin surface.
  • Direct contact – Heat is conducted away from the body if you are in direct contact with cold substances like cold water, wet clothes or cold ground. Even water is good at transferring heat from the body. Hence cold water removes the body heat faster.
  • Radiated heat – Unprotected surfaces of the body radiates heat from the body. Head accounts for half of the heat loss from the body.

Symptoms of Hypothermia
A number of symptoms develop with hypothermia. The signs and symptoms of hypothermia include:

  • Constant shivering
  • Stumbling
  • Clumsiness
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Trying to remove warm clothes
  • Lack of concern

Symptoms in Infants – Infants develop some typical symptoms such as:

  • Very low energy
  • Bright red, cold skin

Consult a medical professional if you seem to experience signs and symptoms of hypothermia. Even seek the help if you expose to conditions like cold weather or cold water. Remove the wet clothing and keep yourselves warm before going to the medical professional.

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