Hypothermia

  • Alternative Names

    Low body temperature; Cold exposure


    Prevention

    Before you spend time outside in the cold, do NOT drink alcohol or smoke. Drink plenty of fluids and get adequate food and rest.

    Wear proper clothing in cold temperatures to protect your body. These include:

    • Mittens (not gloves)
    • Wind-proof, water-resistant, many-layered clothing
    • Two pairs of socks (avoid cotton)
    • Scarf and hat that cover the ears (to avoid major heat loss through the top of your head)

    Avoid:

    • Extremely cold temperature, especially with high winds
    • Wet clothes
    • Poor circulation, which is more likely from age, tight clothing or boots, cramped positions, fatigue, certain medications, smoking, and alcohol

    If you have diabetes or circulatory problems see your doctor regularly and maintain good health habits in order to reduce the risk of blood vessel complications that may put you at risk for hypothermia.


    References

    Danzl DF. Accidental hypothermia. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2009:chap 138.

    Bessen HA. Hypothermia. In: Tintinalli JE, Kelen GD, Stapczynski JS, Ma OJ, Cline DM, eds. Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2004:chap 192.