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10 Common Symptoms of Hypothermia

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Hypothermia occurs when you are exposed to cold weather or cold water. Your body temperature drops dramatically due to your body losing heat faster than it can produce it. Normally, your body temperature should be around 98.6 F (37 C) degrees. Hypothermia is when your body temperature is below 95 F (35 C) degrees. When your body temperature falls, your heart, nervous system, and other organs and tissues don’t work normally. If you do not receive medical treatment, hypothermia can cause heart and respiratory system failure, and then death.

Typically, shivering is the first symptom you notice when your body temperature drops as an automatic defense against cold weather. This serves as an attempt for your body to warm itself. When hypothermia progresses, you may not know how serious your condition is, and you become confused and take unordinary risks. Hypothermia is treated by using methods to warm your body back to a normal temperature.

Symptom 1: Shivering

Are you shivering? This is usually the first sign of hypothermia. It may cause you some discomfort, and although shivering increases your body temperature, it results in needing more of your oxygen and additional energy sources.

According to CriticalCareNurse, “Shivering can cause thermal discomfort as well as sympathetic nervous system activation resulting in tachycardia and hypertension.”

Symptom 2: Slurred Speech

When you talk, is your speech slurred? Do you mumble? As if you are drunk or suffering a stroke?

Have you seen the Christmas Vacation movie, where Clark Griswold’s words are slurred and almost understandable because he is so cold? Watch this video.

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Symptom 3: Shallow Breathing

Is your breathing shallow? Slow? Erratic?

Usually, shallow breathing is a sign that hypothermia is becoming severe. CPR needs to be performed if you stop breathing.

Symptom 4: Lightheaded

Are you dizzy? Lightheaded? Hypothermia can make you feel this way.

According to Livestrong.com, “Dizziness is the unpleasant sensation you feel when you become lightheaded, feel faint, lose your balance or feel as if the room is spinning… this is your body's initial reaction to ward off hypothermia or low core body temperature…”

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Symptom 5: Weak Pulse

Is your pulse weak? Slow?

As your body temperature drops due to hypothermia, so does your pulse.

Symptom 6: Lack of Coordination

Are you clumsy? Do you easily fall or trip? Stumble? Unable to walk or stand?

Hypothermia can cause you to have a lack of coordination.

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Symptom 7: Drowsy

Are you drowsy? Exhausted? Lethargic?

According to Quora.com, “The signs are subtle, and the person suffering from this mild hypothermia may not understand that he is becoming hypothermic from the cold. The drop in temperature occurs gradually, so the tiredness creeps up on the affected person.”

Symptom 8: Lack of Energy

Have no energy? Exhausted? Are you unmotivated? Feel like doing nothing at all?

You may be suffering from hypothermia. Try to conserve as much of your energy as possible.

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Symptom 9: Confusion/Memory Loss

Are you confused? Can’t remember things?

According to Totalhealth.co.uk, “As hypothermia moves into a moderate stage it becomes harder to think properly. At this stage the body temperature is at only 28–32˚C (82–90˚F) and although one may appear alert their speech and actions are confused and accompanied with memory loss.”

Symptom 10: Loss of Consciousness

Did you lose consciousness? This is when hypothermia becomes extremely serious and requires emergency medical attention.

According to Patient.info, “A depressed level of consciousness is the most common feature of hypothermia. The patient is cold to touch and appears grey and cyanotic. Vital signs (pulse rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure) are variable.”

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