hypothermia

QUICK GUIDE TO HYPOTHERMIA

Hypothermia can happen at any time of year. It doesn’t have to be winter for someone to suffer a drop in core body temperature. Don’t be fooled into assuming they are simply shivering a lot because they are simply cold. Hypothermia is when the body’s core temperature drops below 35C. The first signs of hypothermia are quite visible. That’s why it is important to deal with the condition immediately.

This guide is provided for information purposes only. You should seek the help of a professional if you want to know more about hypothermia.

HOW SPOT EARLY SIGNS OF HYPOTHERMIA

Mild hypothermia occurs when a person starts to feel cold. You can tell someone is suffering from mild hypothermia because they will be shivering intensely. Their temperature has reached 35C or 95F. While they are probably still quite alert, they may have signs of slurred speech and slightly impair coordination. If the body’s core temperature drops below 33C or 93F, they will have increased levels of slurred speech, memory loss while starting to become careless.

TREATMENT

The treatment of mild hypothermia is quite simple. The person needs to be moved to a sheltered environment immediately. All wet clothes should be removed and the person should be covered well in blankets and dry clothing. Warm liquid drinks with plenty of sugar should be administered.

Don’t be tempted to use hot water bottles or other similar heat sources. The body needs to be warmed from the inside. Hot water bottles can stop the natural shivering reaction from the body even though the body’s core requires it.

SERIOUS HYPOTHERMIA

Full hypothermia is a very serious matter. This is when the body’s core temperature drops below 32C or 90F. The person will become profoundly lethargic and ‘drunk’. That’s right, they will have an altered mental state and become uncoordinated. The condition will continue to worsen if the person is not stabilised. A simple test can help to find out if someone is suffering from profound hypothermia. Hypothermia becomes progressively serious. They will even stop shivering when their core body temperature reaches 31C or 88F.

HYPOTHERMIA TEST

Much like the old-fashioned way drink drivers were tested to see if they had been drinking, you can ask someone suffering from hypothermia to walk in a straight line, heel-to-toe. If they cannot do this confidently, you know they are progressing from mild to more serious hypothermia.

DEALING WITH PROFOUND HYPOTHERMIA

If someone is suffering from profound hypothermia, your goal should be to stabilise them because a doctor’s help is required. The person should always be treated with care. For example, moving them about can cause their heart to fail. This is because their heart is pumping much less blood around their body. A person that has fallen into deep hypothermia may even appear dead. It is important not to perform CPR unless they have completely stopped breathing.

The person should be stabilised with clothing and blankets. Rewarming should really be handled by a hospital because it is a delicate process. When someone is suffering profound hypothermia, it is time to professional help immediately.

 


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Kimberly Powell
kimberly.powell@dinga.com.au

Kimberly loves camping, cooking, travelling and animals. She's turned her hand to writing to share her experience.