Hypothermia is a human medical condition which takes place when a person’s core body temperature drops to below 35 degrees celsius, the human body should be between 37.5 and 38.5 degrees. Hypothermia strikes many people who are out in the cold for too long and people who hike, climb and enjoy camping should be particularly aware of its causes, symptoms and more importantly, treatment.
Hypothermia is potentially life threatening, especially when it strikes those with limited mobility like the elderly or disabled and the onset of it can be incredibly fast. If you would like to know how to treat hypothermia should you be presented with it, then read on to find out how you should act.
Once you spot the symptoms of hypothermia, the first plan of action is to warm the patient up by moving them to an indoor, warm or sheltered location. If you are unable to get inside, if you are camping or hiking for example, then you should use your own body temperature to warm them up by huddling together. If the person is wearing any wet clothes then get these off as quickly as possible and wrap them up in any dry clothing or blankets which you have. When warming someone up it is important that you don’t rub them, this will produce temporary warmth which will actually make them colder in the long run.
It is important that you get the person to drink water and warm drinks, the warm drinks will heat the body from the inside and the water will encourage blood circulation which will help them to lift their body temperature.
To help to heighten the body temperature of the hypothermia sufferer, you should be looking to give them high energy foods like chocolate which will give them the boost that they need. Hypothermia can sap energy from the body and giving them foods such as this can really help their energy levels.
It is important that you are as gentle as possible with the person who is suffering, you need to reassure them and help them to gradually warm up. Rapid movements or rough handling can cause them to panic which could further lower their temperature.
What to Avoid
Some temptations which you amy have to warm someone up should definitely be avoided such as placing the cold person into a hot bath, this will shock the body and cause further complications. Heat lamps should also be avoided for the same reasons and it could burn the skin as the sufferer will not be able to feel the heat. It is also important that you don’t give alcohol, this will only serve to reduce body temperature.
If the person becomes confused, distressed or passes in and out of consciousness then you need to get them professional medical treatment as soon as possible. Once the hypothermia has reached this stage there is nothing more that you can do and this is a sign that their heart rate has dropped which means that it is life threatening, if you suspect this then don’t wait, get medical help as soon as possible.