One of the leading causes of death in the outdoors. This diagnosis is not one to minimize. It can sneak up on you and before you know it serious symptoms can begin to set in. Layering is imperative and understanding what the initial symptoms are to begin warming up.
Hypothermia is a total body cooling, a bodily response which occurs when the right conditions are present such as wind exposure, wet conditions where the body becomes cold, coupled with exhaustion. Individuals usually shiver for a period of time, then loose consciousness. Core body can drop to life threatening levels. People can appear clinically dead however also can be revived when rewarmed properly and handled very carefully. When we think of hypothermia we often have an image of someone on a mountain trek on Denali or Mr Everest with ice crystals in their beard and bundled up. It is important to note that Florida is one of the highest states with hypothermia. One thinks of the elderly who have a hard time maintain body temps and then combine that with swimming or walking in the ocean hypothermic situations can kick in. Cold, wet and a slight breeze with a poor ability to keep warm makes the right conditions for a hypothermia scenario.
Initial symptoms when still conscious are fatigue, slurred speech, poor decision making, muscle weakness, shivering and a “Im all right “ attitude. Rapid deterioration is not uncommon with no respiration, fixed and dilated pupils, cold, stiff and blue.
Hypothermia causes volume depletion which also inhibits the bodies mechanism to liver which in turn inhibits and decreases temperature. So sugar and fluids must be replaced.
If an individual is conscious and you are aware they are showing initial signs of hypothermia then pushing fluids and warm drinks should be fine. Warm sweet drinks at this stage will be beneficial and coffee should not be a factor. IF HYPOTHERMIA IS ADVANCING DO NOT PUSH CAFFEINE OR ALCOHOL. You need to keep them dry and insulated. Once agin shivering is a great way of rewarming the body.
Unconscious individuals great care must be taken in not moving them or jostling them. Inducing a heart arrhythmia can occur by sudden movements. When severe hypothermia sets in life threatening heart arrhythmias can occur