Hypothermia is a potentially life-threatening sickness where your body temperature falls below 35 C (95 F), a variable which should stay stable for the body’s proper functioning. Its optimum temperature is approximately 37 C (99 F) and is
Hypothermia is a potentially life-threatening sickness where your body temperature falls below 35 C (95 F), a variable which should stay stable for the body’s proper functioning. Its optimum temperature is approximately 37 C (99 F) and is regulated by a process called homeostasis. If this regulatory mechanism isn’t able to bring your body temperature back to normal, then you suffer this condition and experience symptoms such as shivering and confusion. This piece will show you how to treat hypothermia if such an event should occur.
- Protect the victim from the exposure which caused the condition in the first place. Take them out of the rain, wind or cold and warm them up as soon as possible. This might mean taking off their wet clothing and putting on some dry, warm gear instead.
- You must be able to provide a warm environment. Sit them down beside a rapid source of heat, like an open fire or heater in a car. Wrap them up in dry blankets, coats or seat covers, whatever you can find.
- Keep the victim moving; it’s highly likely they are shivering a lot, which is the body’s natural way of generating heat, but they’ll need to do more than that. If they can move their limbs at all, it’s important that they stay as active as possible – waving their hands, lifting their legs up and down - to keep the blood circulating and transferring heat to all areas of the body
- Organise some hot food and drink; soup is easy to consume and is an ideal way of generating heat inside the body.
- It is essential that you get the victim to a medical facility as soon as possible. Ring an ambulance – or transfer the victim to a hospital yourself - as soon as you have a chance. Even if you are able to provide for all the above points, the victim will still need some serious medical attention after this traumatic event. Do not take any risks in this regard. It is likely they are suffering from shock as well as the physical symptoms. It is possible that the symptoms could reoccur if his treatment is not completed by a physician.
Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition. The elderly are most at risk of contracting it as they may not notice their own temperature dropping. Encourage them to install thermostats in their homes to keep the temperature at a constant, safe temperature. If their body temperature drops, it triggers various other organs to misfire; blood vessels reduce, which increases the pressure on the heart, muscles tighten and the lungs close in. The consequences of hypothermia can be devastating.
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