Did you know? Hypothermia is the cause of at least 1,500 deaths a year in the United States, between 1995 to 2004, an average of 674 people died in the United States.
Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat as a result of exposure to cold weather or immersion in cold water. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 F (37 C), hypothermia occurs as your body temperature falls below 95F (35C). Signs of hypothermia include:
- Shivering uncontrollably
- Chest pain and difficulty breathing
- Lightheadedness and feeling faint
- Slurred speech and impaired vocal ability
- Confusion and loss of consciousness
- Poor control of body movement
- Weak pulse
- Lack of vision
- Impaired cognitive ability
- Difficulty breathing through the nose
- A rapid change in color of the skin
Unlike some medical conditions, hypothermia can be very fatal if not treated immediately. Treatment of Hypothermia does not necessarily need prescription pills or surgical procedures to cure, it can be cured naturally using home remedies if medical and emergency centers are not nearby.
How to take care of a hypothermic patient:
- Move the person away from the cold weather and provide shelter for him/her
- Remove the wet or frosty cloth and replace with warm ones before covering the body with a warm blanket
- Prepare a warm beverage for the patient to supply the boxy with an internal source of heat.
- Warm-up areas with frost nips but do not subject the person to a very powerful source of heat because the body can react negatively to the sudden massive change in temperature.
- Give only nonalcoholic drinks to a hypothermic patient and not alcoholic drinks because alcohol interferes with blood circulation.
- Insulate the body of the patient completely from the ground.
- Begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if the person shows no sign of life such as breathing, coughing, and moving.
Hypothermia can easily be prevented and avoided in the following ways:
- Wears layers of clothes that cover the body and provides sufficient warmth for the body especially during the winter season.
- Maintain correct heating in your home especially at night and don’t switch on the air conditioners overnight in rooms occupied by children and very old adults.
- Don’t take babies and old adults out during cold weathers
- During an emergency, if you can’t get access to warm water, drink cold water instead of snow or ice
- Don’t go surfing at night especially during the rainy season.
- Pay close attention to signs and symptoms of hypothermia in your children when you are outdoors
- Avoid getting drenched by the rain if you have a medical history of being easily hypothermic
- Avoid engaging in snowboarding and other sporting activities that have conditions that are likely to drop your body temperature if you have health issues that make you easily sensitive to cold.
- Always check the weather forecast before going out to leave your home prepared.
- Eat enough food to enable your body to produce enough body heat to fight cold.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake during the cold season.
- Ensure to always go swimming and boating with emergency kits in case of emergency
- Don’t travel in cold, windy, snowy, and rainy weathers if possible
When our body is subjected to extremely cold conditions, a hypothermic attack occurs in some stages:
- First stage: mild hypothermia, which occurs within 35-32 degrees near-normal consciousness shivering.
- The second stage (moderate hypothermia): occurs at an even lower temperature than the first stage. 32-28 degrees. At this stage, shivering stops, and consciousness becomes impaired, the victim also experiences slurred speech and exhaustion.
- Third stage (severe hypothermia): this stage occurs within the temperatures of 24 to 28 degrees, at this stage, the victim experiences shallow breathing, confusion, and memory loss.
- Fourth stage (apparent death): at this stage, the hypothermic patient is very close to death as the body systems are barely functions due to low temperature, it occurs at temperatures 15 to 24 degrees.
- Fifth stage: less than 15 degrees, the patient dies from irreversible hypothermia.
Hypothermia generally progresses in stages until it claims the life of the victim. From mild to moderate to severe, high blood pressure, loss of consciousness, fatigue, and lack of coordination.
Severe hypothermia can result in organ damage and permanent medical issue. Mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder puts you at greater risk of hypothermia. If a hypothermic patient does not experience cardiac arrest or respiratory issue during hypothermia, he or she is not at great risk of experiencing the long term effect of hypothermia. Severe hypothermia is medically treated with saline.