Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when the body temperature has been lowered to a dangerous level. Hypothermia is usually caused by extended exposure to the cold or a cool, damp environment. It happens when the body temperature drops to or below 35 degrees Celsius and becomes life-threatening at 32.2 degrees Celsius or lower. Symptoms include decreased mental function, shivering, changes in consciousness and motor coordination, slurred speech, a slow rate of breathing, cold, pale skin, and fatigue, lethargy or apathy. Treatment is imperative and begins with getting the person out of the cold. Wet clothes should be removed and the person should be kept off the cold ground. Further treatment involves monitoring breathing, sharing body heat, giving warm drinks, giving warm IV fluids, haemodialysis (allows for rapid warming of the blood). It is important that the body is reheated slowly without using direct heat.


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