Today, a growing number of people enjoy outdoor winter sports and outdoor recreation activities. With this, has came a growing number of hypothermia cases. . Under most conditions your body can maintain a healthy temperature but anyone who is exposed to mild or severe cold weather without adequate protection can develop hypothermia. Knowing what hypothermia is, symptoms, treatments, and preventions, could save yours or someone elses life.
Hypothermia literally means "low-heat". When a persons core body temperature drops below 95? F (35.3? C) the body functions slowly decrease. As organs and tissues of the body cool, their cells don't function properly. The brain and nerves work more slowly, it is difficult to contract muscles, resulting in cramps, and the heart is at risk for slowing or an irregular beating pattern. In attempt to warm the body, it diverts warm blood flow to the trunk and head of the body, consequently making the arms and legs even colder. When this happens on the inside, symptoms start to show on the outside.
Signs and symptoms of hypothermia usually develop slowly. The first and most common symptom is shivering. Shivering is our bodies' first attempt to warm us. Someone who is shivering is most likely cold, but be aware, lack of shivering does not necessarily mean someone is not cold. Discoloration is another big sign. As the body cools, circulation slows as the heart pumps the blood to where its need most, in the center or trunk of the body. This often leads to blue fingers and toes. If the bodies' temperature continues to fall, mental confusion, lethargy, poor coordination, and slow breathing or heart rate can occur. Thus the situation becomes more critical.
If a person is suffering from any or all of these symptoms from being in a prolonged cold environment, action needs to be take to warm the individual. First thing that should always be done in a critical situation is to contact emergency services immediately.