Hypothermia happens when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. If left untreated, it can eventually affect the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. It can also lead to heart and lung failure, and even death.
Hypothermia is often caused by immersion in cold water, but can also be a result of exposure to extremely cold temperatures. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adds that it can also happen during cool temperatures (40 degrees) if a person is wet (from rain, sweat or cold water) and becomes chilled.
According to the CDC, older adults with inadequate provisions, babies sleeping in cold bedrooms, people who are outdoors for long periods of time, and people who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs are at the most risk of getting hypothermia.
Symptoms include shivering, an altered speech pattern, abnormally slow rate of breathing, cold pale skin and lethargy. In infants, the symptoms include bright red or cold skin and very low energy levels. The Department for Public Health advises that you seek medical attention if you or a loved one experiences the signs of hypothermia.
Here are the health department’s tips tips to prevent hypothermia:
• Wear appropriate clothing, including layers of synthetic and wool fabrics, hats, coats, scarves and gloves. The best outerwear is water-resistant.
• Avoid consuming alcohol if outdoors, which can speed the loss of heat from the body.
• Avoid activities that cause excessive sweat, which leads to damp clothing, and chilling.
• Stay as dry as possible
• The CDC recommends making a car emergency kit that among other things includes extra hats,coats and mittens, blankets, a cell phone and portable charger, water, snacks and jumper cables.
©Kentucky Health News