Hypothermia is a state in which a person’s temperature drops below 35 ° C, which is why those mechanisms of the body begin to fail to prevent it from losing heat. In other words, it can be defined as hypothermia when the rate at which the body loses heat is greater than the rate at which it has to produce it. This can occur when we are faced with long periods at low temperatures or when we are exposed to sudden changes in temperature.
The risk of hypothermia can be significantly increased if you are dehydrated or exhausted, and if the disorder is not treated correctly, it can be life-threatening. For this reason, in the following FastlyHealarticle, we detail what to do in case of hypothermia.
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Various forms of hypothermia
Among the types of hypothermia, there is gradual hypothermia, in which the body temperature is progressively decreasing. In general, this alteration appears when they are on a cold day or with intense wind, and the appropriate clothing is not worn for that moment.
Another type of this disorder is acute hypothermia, although it may be known as immersion hypothermia. This name is because the body temperature drops rapidly and intensely, just as it happens when a person falls into waters that are at a shallow temperature.
Finally, the third division is silent hypothermia, which occurs gradually when a person is submerged in cold water for a long time. However, the heat loss does not happen abruptly since most equipment is worn. Suitable for the occasion. This decrease in body temperature becomes very common in divers, surfers, and anglers.
Generally, hypothermia does not appear suddenly but gradually, and, on many occasions, the patient is not aware that he is suffering from it. As you progress, different phases can be highlighted:
The first is when the symptoms caused by the body’s methods of defending itself become present. At this time, the well-known blood vessels in the extremities contract, which causes a decrease in blood circulation in this area as a way for the body to keep vital organs warmer. You begin to feel chills and observe popularly known as goosebumps. Also, the muscles of the four limbs start to feel weak, not responding correctly, at the same time that breathing and heartbeat accelerate.
During the second phase, the chills and tremors tend to be much more violent. In addition, it begins to feel that the body’s movements are very gradual and clumsy, so a significant lack of coordination can be appreciated. In addition, the patient turns pale while the ears, lips, and fingers may turn blue or purple.
In the third stage, the deepest, one experiences extreme difficulty moving, the skin turns blue, and the tremors begin to disappear. The person with hypothermia, in this phase, is tired, mentally confused, and may have very unusual or absurd behaviors. Both breathing and heart rate tend to slow down at this stage, becoming weak and sluggish. Eventually, the organs most essential for life begin to fail and stop working, causing clinical death; however, the person is not lifeless since brain death may take more hours.
What to do in case of hypothermia
There are some basic guidelines to keep in mind if a person suffers from hypothermia, for example:
- When it is suspected that a person is suffering from a case of hypothermia, it is essential to contact an emergency number, especially if the patient presents confusion and mental disorders.
- If the victim has already suffered from hypothermia and is unconscious, the first thing to do is a breathing check. CPR with 30 compressions – 2 breaths should be started immediately if the person is not breathing.
- Another fundamental guideline is to protect the injured person from the cold. Try to take the hypothermic person to a place with a high temperature, add clothes and cover them with blankets. If this cannot be done, it is essential to isolate yourself from the wind and any cold place such as the ground, and then cover your neck and head since they are the places with the most significant heat loss.
- If the hypothermia suffered is due to being exposed to water, it is necessary to remove the person from it, take them to firm ground, in a covered place and remove the wet clothes to change them into dry clothes. If it is possible to get to a secure site, you should leave the clothes and try to give heat so that they do not get so cold.
- It is also advisable to apply warm compresses to the parts of the body that keep heat better, that is, the armpits, the neck, and both legs of the torso. If there is no way to apply heat to these areas, one can use one’s body to try to rekindle the person with the rescuer’s body temperature.
- If the patient is awake, conscious and without any difficulty swallowing, it is recommended that they drink sweet and warm beverages to cause rewarming, although alcohol should never be given.
- Finally, the victim must never be left alone. A person must remain with her until the emergency doctor arrives.
What should not be done before hypothermia
- Never think that the victim is dead because his body is cold and because he is not able to find the pulsations.
- The body or parts should not be rubbed but covered with warm bandages.
- Direct heat such as fire, hot water, or electric blankets should not be applied to the victim, as it can be harmful to the person.
- Alcoholic beverages should not be given to a person with hypothermia.
- Do not make violent movements with the victim.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.