As with all diseases, you need to know the hypothermia symptoms in order to take precautionary measures or consult your physician if you doubt that you might be suffering from this disease.
In medical terms, hypothermia is the condition of the body when the body temperature is abnormally low, say ranging from 32 C to 35 C. You need to be very careful and rush for treatment if the body temperature goes down 32.2 C, in which case, there might be serious complications felt.
In order to detect hypothermia early, it is better that you are aware of the initial hypothermia symptoms. They can be any of the following or sometimes a combination of one or more symptoms too:
- The most commonly seen or the major symptom of hypothermia is a general deterioration in the mental faculties. In other words, the affected person faces more and more troubles while taking decisions.
- Further, lethargy and weakness is also felt.
- This condition might resemble the state of drunkenness, especially because the person will exhibit disorientation.
- There may be distinct changes in the speech pattern too.
- Once hypothermia sets in, the body will begin to lose its motor and muscle functions. But, at the same time, these symptoms might be mistaken for some other disease like diabetes, alcohol usage, stroke, etc.
- The most dangerous symptom of hypothermia is that the body of the affected person will not be able to utilize any heat-generating mechanism like shivering. Similar to this inability to produce heat-generating mechanisms or processes of defense, the body loses other protective reflexes. Consequently, the normal body temperature comes down drastically.
- As a result of inefficient functioning or malfunctioning of the muscles, the person would not be able to even stand or walk.
Hypothermia symptoms in elders can be identified by:
- Unusual lethargy and sleepiness along with confusion.
- Inability to control body movements.
- Low blood pressure and pulse rate.
Shallow and slow breathing along with irregular or arrested heartbeat as the heart experiences abnormal electrical rhythms, such as ventricular fibrillation. This is a type of cardiac arrest, where the heart is not able to pump and function normally.
- Rigid muscles or extreme shivering can be felt.
- The color of the nose, fingers, toes and ears might show a shade of blue-gray color.
- The skin may become so cold as if the person had stayed in a cold room.
- Usually, there are visible changes in both behavior and speech, exhibiting drowsiness or sluggishness.
- In the cases of acute hypothermia, the affected person might even become unconscious.
Sometimes, hypothermia might lead to hallucinations, irritability or even coma. Early symptoms of hypothermia in infants is a very low level of energy, the skin might turn bright red and too cold. It is important to identify hypothermia early enough as it sets in gradually but ultimately might be fatal.
Another striking characteristic of this disease is that the deterioration of the brain, muscle and other related functions are directly proportional to the rate of decrease of the body temperature.