Hypothermia is a condition in which the body’s core temperature drops below 95°F. This happens when the body loses heat faster than it can produce. The most at-risk groups for hypothermia are infants and the elderly.
Hypothermia is a medical emergency because you can die from it very quickly. If you or a loved one is experiencing hypothermia in Arizona, call 9-1-1 for immediate care.
If you need to go to the ER, use our InQuicker™ online tool by selecting your estimated hospital arrival time and wait at home until your time to be seen. Upon arrival and check-in, you will see a doctor who will assess your situation and determine the next appropriate level of care.
The symptoms of hypothermia develop slowly over a period of time. In many cases, people with hypothermia do not even realize it is happening.
Common hypothermia symptoms include:
- Memory loss
- Slurred speech
In cases of severe hypothermia, a person will stop shivering and may start to feel too warm. At this point, the person may show irrational behavior, such as removing clothing. Without immediate treatment, the person will lose consciousness and die.
Hypothermia is caused when the body loses heat faster than it can create. The most common causes of hypothermia are:
- Long exposure to cold-weather conditions
- Exposure to cold water
- Wearing clothing that is not warm enough for weather conditions
- Accidental falls into cold water
- Lack of proper heating in the home, specifically for infants and older adults
- Not being able to get out of wet clothing or move to a dry, warm location
- Air conditioning that is too cold, specifically for infants and older adults
Emergency Hypothermia Treatment at Dignity Health
In the event that someone around you is experiencing hypothermia, follow these first aid steps:
- Get the person inside or to a warm shelter if possible
- Remove any wet clothing
- Cover the person with a blanket or whatever is available
- Use skin-to-skin with a warm body, if necessary
- Examine the person for any signs of injury and provide first aid care
- If the person is conscious, give warm liquids that do not contain alcohol or caffeine
- Seek prompt medical care.
At Dignity Health, emergency doctors offer the following treatments for hypothermia:
- Warm intravenous fluids, a saltwater (s)aline solution
- Blood rewarming, blood is withdrawn, warmed, and recirculated in the body
- Airway rewarming, humidified oxygen (given with a mask) can help raise body temperature
- Irrigation, a warm solution of saltwater is used to warm certain areas of the body (a)round the lungs or abdominal cavity
You can take steps to prevent hypothermia by avoiding overexertion, choosing and wearing the right layers of clothing, keeping your head covered in cold weather, staying dry, and changing out of wet clothes as soon as possible. Dignity Health’s emergency departments and urgent care centers can quickly diagnose and treat all stages of hypothermia in Arizona.