How To Recognize Symptoms Of Hypothermia

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Feb 04, 2013

Grandmother taking grandson temperature with thermometerHypothermia is a life-threatening condition where your body temperature falls dangerously below 35 C (95 F), a variable which should stay stable for the body to function optimally. Its normal temperature is approximately 37 C (99 F) and is regulated by a process called homeostasis. If this regulatory mechanism isn’t able to bring your body temperature under control, then you suffer hypothermia and experience symptoms such as shivering and confusion. This piece will explain how to recognize the symptoms of hypothermia in more detail.


The most apparent symptom of hypothermia is uncontrolled or even violent shivering. The victim is barely able to communicate because the shivering is having such an impact that speech is impossible. The pulse will weaken and the limbs will numb.  They may seem disoriented and confused, which means that simple tasks such as speech or standing up become a strain; the victim may even fall into a state of semi-consciousness. These are the critical symptoms of hypothermia and must be recognized right away, as the victim will need immediate attention before the condition deteriorates.


You will need to protect them from any exposure to inclement weather. Take them out of the rain, wind or cold and warm them up as soon as possible. This might mean taking off their wet clothing and putting on some dry, warm gear instead. You must be able to provide a warm environment. Sit them down beside a rapid source of heat, like an open fire or heater in a car. Wrap them up in dry blankets, coats or seat covers, whatever you can find.


Keep the victim moving; they will probably be shivering a lot, which is the body’s way of generating heat, but they’ll need to do more than that. If they can move their limbs at all, it’s important that they stay as active as possible – waving their hands, lifting their legs up and down - to keep the blood circulating and transferring heat to critical areas of the body.


It is essential that you get the victim to a hospital as soon as possible. Ring an ambulance – or transfer the victim yourself - as soon as you have a chance. Even if you are able to provide for all the above points, the victim will still need some serious medical attention after this traumatic event. It is likely they are suffering from shock as well as the physical symptoms. It is possible the symptoms of hypothermia could reoccur if his treatment is not completed by a physician.



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