Hypothermia: Symptoms and Prevention

Winter is in full swing in New England and with temperatures dipping below freezing as of late, it’s important to understand the risks of hypothermia and how to treat it. Hypothermia is caused when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it; which can happen quickly on a frigid day, especially for those high at risk, such as infants and elderly. When body temperature drops too low, it can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.

Symptoms of hypothermia include: uncontrollable shivering and an increase in breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate.  As body temperature drops further, the shivering stops and fatigue, loss of coordination, confusion, drowsiness, and slowed breathing and heart rate may occur. Babies with hypothermia may appear healthy but their skin will feel cold to the touch. They may also be limp, unusually quiet and refuse to feed.

To prevent hypothermia, dress warmly in layers and protective clothing such as hats, scarves, and gloves, avoid prolonged exposure to the cold, drink plenty of fluids, remove damp or wet clothing immediately.

If you suspect someone is suffering from Hypothermia, call 911 and restore warmth slowly with blankets until help arrives. Severe hypothermia can be life threatening.

By Dr. Sophia Hil