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What is hypothermia and how to treat it

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What is hypothermia and how to treat it

Hypothermia occurs when body temperature falls below 35.0ºC (95ºF). The normal range of body temperature is very variable, but is generally accepted to be between 36ºC and 37.2ºC (97ºF and 99ºF). It depends largely on a persons age, weight, level of physical activity, time of the day and, for women, the time of the month. It also depends on the method of taking the temperature. In general, axillary temperature (armpit temperature) is about 0.5º lower than oral temperature, whereas rectal temperature is roughly 0.5º higher than oral temperature.

In this OneHowTo article, we explain what exactly is hypothermia and how to treat it.

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Types of hypothermia

Hypothermia has 3 different severities, from mild to severe.

  • Mild hypothermia: When the body temperature is between 31.6ºC and 35.6ºC (89ºF to 96ºF)
  • Moderate hypothermia: When the body temperature falls between and 27.7ºC 31.5ºC (82ºF to 88ºF)
  • Severe hypothermia: When the body temperature lies below 27.6ºC (81ºF).
Types of hypothermia

Who are at risk of hypothermia?

Certain people are more at risk than others for developing hypothermia. Among those most at risk are:

  • Infants and neonates with inadequate heating and clothes
  • Elderly
  • Those who are malnourished
  • People with diabetes
  • Those with other underlying illnesses such as hypothyroidism, stroke, trauma, severe arthritis or Parkinson's
  • People with impaired judgment due to alcohol or drugs
  • People with mental illness
  • People who are exposed to cold weather for extended periods of time

What are the symptoms of hypothermia

Symptoms of hypothermia vary according to the severity. Cases of mild hypothermia are characterized by excessive shivering. In more severe cases, the shivering will stop. Other symptoms include:

  • Disorientation
  • Weakness
  • Slow, weak pulse
  • Very cold to the touch
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Bright red skin
  • Difficulty controlling movements
  • Difficulty speaking

How to treat someone with hypothermia

Hypothermia can be potentially life threatening. If you or someone else has a body temperature below 35ºC, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

In the meantime, you should follow these measures:

  • Remove any wet or cold clothing
  • Cover the person with dry, warm blankets
  • Offer the person hot liquids
  • Do not offer the person alcohol or caffeine, as these increase heat loss
  • Protect the person from wind or water.

This article is merely informative, OneHowTo does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What is hypothermia and how to treat it, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

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Very useful
1 comment
Ali Shah.
Kindly advise what is the cause of sweating every morning when I wake and all clothes wet. Even in the cold weather while I put little more clothes my forehand start sweating . Wait for your advice. Thanks a lot . A. S. Z. M.

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What is hypothermia and how to treat it