Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a condition where a person’s body temperature falls below 35°C (95°F). It usually develops after exposure to very cold temperatures over a long period of time. As it progresses, hypothermia diminishes the body’s ability to carry out normal metabolism and body functions. Those at highest risk for hypothermia include infants, heart patients, hypothyroid patients, and the elderly.
 
Recognizing hypothermia
The symptoms of hypothermia include:
  • Intense shivering
  • Poor coordination
  • Slowing in movement
  • Confusion
  • Slurred or thick speech
  • Hallucinations or disorientation
  • Pink and puffy face
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Feeling of deep cold
  • Extreme fatigue.
 
As hypothermia progresses, people may be too cold to shiver and experience a decrease in shivering followed by muscle rigidity.
 
Hypothermia can be life-threatening. Anyone with suspected hypothermia must be transported to the nearest hospital as soon as possible.
 
Treatment
  • Prevent further heat loss by returning to shelter. Use top and bottom blankets, hot water bottles, and replace wet clothing with dry clothing.
  • Keep moving your arms and legs to generate heat. DO NOT RUB THE BODY!
  • Drink hot drinks and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Seek medical help immediately. Call for help or visit the emergency room.
Prevention
  • Wear many layers of clothing, long underwear, several pairs of socks and gloves or mittens.
  • Wear a hat or toque on your head.
  • Keep your arms and legs moving to generate heat
  • Avoid wet conditions. Stay dry and out of the rain or snow.
  • Eat plenty of energy food (chocolate, sweets, dry fruit).
  • Drink plenty of fluids and hot drinks.
  • Avoid alcohol before and during outside activities. Alcohol can give you a false sense of warmth when, in fact, even more heat is being lost from the body.
Keeping warm at home without heat:
  • Dress warmly. Wear socks, shoes or slippers, hats and extra clothing. All body parts should be covered.
  • Keeping active and busy will keep you warmer.
  • Body temperature drops at night, so bundle up while sleeping by using extra blankets.
  • Hot water bottles can be used to warm the bed, but remove them prior to sleeping to prevent burns.
  • Family members should sleep in the same bed to keep warm from body heat.
In an emergency situation, seek medical attention immediately.
 
Learn more about: