Causes and Risk Factors of Hypothermia


While Dallas winters are mild compared to those of Maine or Minnesota, it’s still important to understand the causes and risk factors of hypothermia. Mild hypothermia can come from simply lingering outside in cold weather, while more severe hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to cold water or weather.

What causes hypothermia?
Hypothermia’s most common trigger is cold air or water, but cold-water immersion brings it on most quickly. Classified as a medical emergency, falling into cold water whisks heat away from your body 25 times faster than air does. Once out of the water, wearing wet clothes can also create issues, as wet clothes also remove heat from your body.

Mild hypothermia can occur if a person is outside on a cold day without a coat. Wind chill can be a factor in hypothermia too, as it reduces body heat faster. A combination of wind and cold water together can be extremely dangerous.

Signs and Symptoms
Understanding the signs and symptoms of hypothermia is important – and could even save a life.

Mild Hypothermia – When the body begins to cool down, it will try to keep itself warm and begin to shiver in order to generate heat. One of the initial and most obvious signs of hypothermia is uncontrollable shivering. Other signs include:

Mild hypothermia can be reversed by drinking something warm and moving to a warmer environment. However, if it’s not reversed, your body’s temperature will continue to drop.

Moderate and Severe Hypothermia – When experiencing severe hypothermia, your body will stop shivering, as it tries to conserve energy. If your body’s internal temperature drops below 95 degrees, it is considered moderate hypothermia. Moderate hypothermia should be treated immediately, otherwise it will progress to severe hypothermia, which poses a serious medical risk. Patients with severe hypothermia are at risk for cardiac arrest, because their heart muscles do not operate normally at a low temperature. Warming them can be dangerous too, as the patient could experience a cardiac arrhythmia.

Other symptoms of moderate or severe hypothermia include:

When to Come to TMC–Mansfield 
Any type of hypothermia can be cause for alarm and should receive medical attention. If you suspect a friend or loved one is experiencing these symptoms, bring them immediately into TMC–Mansfield.

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