With the recent frigid temperatures and high winds there is a particular health risk that we must address: Hypothermia. Hypothermia can occur when you least expect it if you are not properly prepared for the below freezing temperatures, whether while shoveling snow for an extended period of time, in a stuck car during a storm, or a host of other ways. It’s not something to be taken lightly. Pay attention to hypothermia symptoms.
Hypothermia Symptoms may include:
- memory loss, slurred speech
- uneven gait
- extremely low energy
- bright red skin
It isn’t unusual for a person with hypothermia to lose consciousness, and present little pulse or breath. If this is the case, it’s important to get emergency assistance immediately, or call 911. Provide CPR while waiting if possible. CPR should continue while the victim is being warmed, until the victim responds or medical aid becomes available.
What exactly is Hypothermia?
Hypothermia, simply stated, is when your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced when exposed to cold temperatures. In time, the cold will usurp your body’s stored energy and that results in hypothermia.
Extremely low body temperatures can have a negative effect in a number of body functions, not the least of which is brain function. The victim may become unable to think clearly or move well. This is one of the most dangerous symptoms of hypothermia, because when not thinking clearly, the person may not be able to help themselves or call for help.
Who’s at risk for hypothermia?
Those most at risk of hypothermia are often (1) elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating; (2) babies sleeping in cold bedrooms; (3) people who remain outdoors for long periods—the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.; and (4) people who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs.
How to Treat Hypothermia:
If immediate medical care is not available, follow these steps:
- move the victim into a warm room or shelter.
- Remove any wet clothing from the victim
- Warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head, and groin—using an electric blanket, if available. Or use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
- Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, but do not give alcoholic beverages. Never try to give beverages to an unconscious person.
- After body temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
If you suspect you or a loved is suffering from hypothermia, do not hesitate to bring them into our West Hartford urgent care center or call us with questions at 860-986-6440. There is always someone available to answer your questions.