Hypothermia 1

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Unlike other warm-blooded animals that have a layer of hair or blubber to keep them warm, you need an extra layer of clothing to keep you warm when its cold outside. If too much heat escapes, the result is hypothermia, as Dr. Edward Hill discusses in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Hypothermia occurs when your bodys control mechanisms fail to maintain a normal body temperature. Severe hypothermia can lead to death.

For most Americans, hypothermia isnt a serious risk. Still, each year nearly 700 people in the United States die of hypothermia. In addition to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, factors that commonly increase your risk of hypothermia include advanced or very young age, substance abuse, impaired mental status and immersion in cold water.

Hypothermia usually comes on gradually. Often, people arent aware that they need medical attention. The most common sign to look for is shivering, which is your bodys attempt to generate heat through muscle activity.

Other signs and symptoms may include:

Slurred speech

Abnormally slow rate of breathing

Cold, pale skin and

Fatigue, lethargy or apathy

The severity of hypothermia can vary, depending on how low your core body temperature goes. Severe hypothermia will eventually lead to cardiac and respiratory failure, then death.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.