How to Treat Hypothermia

Baby it’s COLD outside! The recent frigid temperatures bring their own set of health issues. Hypothermia is one of them.

What is Hypothermia?

Hypothermia, simply stated, is when your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced when exposed to cold temperatures. In time, the cold will usurp your body’s stored energy and that results in hypothermia.

Extremely low body temperatures can have a negative effect in a number of body functions, not the least of which is brain function. The victim may become unable to think clearly or move well. This is one of the most dangerous symptoms of hypothermia, because when not thinking clearly, the person may not be able to help themselves or call for help.

Those most at risk of hypothermia are often (1) elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating; (2) babies sleeping in cold bedrooms; (3) people who remain outdoors for long periods—the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.; and (4) people who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs.

Symptoms of hypothermia may include:

  • confusion, fumbling hands
  • memory loss, slurred speech
  • uneven gait
  • shivering
  • exhaustion
  • drowsiness
  • extremely low energy
  • bright red skin

How to Treat Hypothermia:

how-to-treat-hypothermia-afc-urgent-care-west-hartford-ctThe situation is an emergency and requites medical attention if the persons temperature is under 95°, so the first thing one should do is to take the victims temperature.

If immediate medical care is not available, one should do the following:

  • move the victim into a warm room or shelter.
  • Remove any wet clothing from the victim
  • Warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head, and groin—using an electric blanket, if available. Or use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
  • Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, but do not give alcoholic beverages. Never try to give beverages to an unconscious person.
  • After body temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

It is not unusual for a person with hypothermia to lose consciousness, and present little pulse or breath. If this is the case, it’s important to get emergency assistance immediately, or call 911. Provide CPR while waiting if possible. CPR should continue while the victim is being warmed, until the victim responds or medical aid becomes available.

If you suspect you or a loved is suffering from hypothermia, do not hesitate to bring them into our urgent care center or call us with questions at 860-986-6440. There is always someone available to answer your questions.