A to Z: Hypothermia

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A to Z: Hypothermia

Hypothermia (hy-puh-THUR-me-uh) is a medical emergency that occurs when the body is exposed to cold temperatures and loses heat faster than it can produce it. A person is considered hypothermic when body temperature drops to 95ºF (35ºC) or less.

More to Know

Hypothermia is dangerous because when body temperature is too low, the organs can't function properly. Without treatment, organ failure and even death can occur.

Exposure to cold weather, and especially cold water, can lead to hypothermia. Babies and older people are at increased risk. Signs of hypothermia include constant shivering, confusion, clumsiness, drowsiness, slurred speech, and a weak pulse. Many people with hypothermia don't know they're in trouble because the symptoms appear slowly and affect their ability to think clearly.

Keep in Mind

Hypothermia can be prevented in wintertime by dressing appropriately for the weather and keeping skin dry. If you suspect someone has hypothermia, go to the emergency room or call 911. While waiting for help, you can move the person to a warm, dry location, remove wet clothing, and attempt to warm him or her with blankets.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.



Related Resources

Web SiteFEMA Winter Storms and Extreme Cold Information on dealing with severe winter weather, including driving tips and fact sheets.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.


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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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