Risk Factors for Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a condition characterized by a dangerously low body temperature. It’s a medical emergency caused when the body loses heat faster than it produces. It occurs when the normal body temperature (98.6 For 37 C) drops below 95 F or 35 C. The drop in temperature can thus impact the normal functioning of vital organs such as the heart, nervous system etc.

If not treated in a timely manner, hypothermia may cause a complete failure of the heart and respiratory system, leading eventually to death. This condition happens due to exposure to cold weather or immersion in cold water. So, keeping yourself safe during the winter weather is key to avoiding this serious illness.

Symptoms of hypothermia

Since hypothermia occurs due to cold, the first of the symptoms has to be shivering in the wake of the drop in body temperature. You are then required to take steps to warm the body back to the normal temperature. Some of other signs and symptoms may include –

  • Shivering, ranging from mild to extreme form
  • Slurred speech or mumbling
  • The breathing turning slow and shallow
  • Weak pulse
  • A feeling of drowsiness or very low energy
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Memory loss or a sense of confused thinking
  • Cold skin or bright red skin in infants

Risk factors for hypothermia

There are certain risk factors for hypothermia which you should know to handle the condition better. By knowing these factors, you can learn to take precautions and keep yourself largely safe from the problem. These risk factors include –

  • Fatigue or exhaustion can lower or diminish your tolerance for cold
  • Older people are more at risk for hypothermia as the body gradually loses its ability to regulate temperature and sense cold
  • Some older adults may lose the ability to know they are cold or they do feel cold
  • Children who often don’t dress properly during the cold weather are at risk of hypothermia as they lose heat faster than adults do
  • Mental problems may also stop people to gauge the risk of cold weather as the illness may impair their ability to make judgment
  • Anyone not dressing adequately for colder weather is at risk for sudden loss in body temperature
  • Alcohol is one of the causes of rapid heat loss from the surface of skin as the blood vessels expand even if the body feels warm inside
  • Drinking alcohol may also diminish the body’s natural response to shivering making them at greater risk for hypothermia
  • Use of recreational drugs can impair the judgment about dressing weather-appropriately so hypothermia can strike such people easily
  • Certain medical conditions or medications are also responsible for impairing the body’s ability to regulate heat in the way it should
  • Use of antidepressants or certain narcotic pain medications and sedatives can increase the risk of hypothermia
  • You should have a thermometer ready at home so that any sudden drop in temperature can be measured immediately
  • You can buy digital thermometer online even without venturing outside in the cold and stay aware about risk factors for hypothermia.