Hypothermia Symptoms & Signs

Hypothermia Symptoms & Signs

During the late 60’s, I was involved in several expeditions to the North and South Poles. One thing I learned while in these polar regions was that cold can kill, often when you least expect it. You need to know the hypothermia symptoms and signs.

Those scenes in the movies of explorers stumbling around in blizzards have a lot of truth to them. When the weather turns hostile, things go down hill in a hurry.

During good weather conditions, you tend to ignore the weather. If it’s sunny, you’ll probably feel warm and neglect to carry proper clothing necessary in the event of inclement weather. You may even lack food and rudimentary shelter and equipment necessary for survival in an emergency.

If the weather changes suddenly, or you or a member of your party is injured, you may find yourself unprepared to face adverse conditions.

Hypothermia symptoms usually begin slowly. As you develop hypothermia, your ability to think and move often become clouded. In fact, you may even be unaware that you need help. As your thought process is impaired, you fail to realize that you are becoming colder. Once you get cold, it can be very difficult to get warm again.

Someone with hypothermia symptoms is likely to have frostbite as well.

One of the key hypothermia symptoms is a core body temperature below 95º F (normal body temperature is 98.6º F).

Usually, everyone thinks about hypothermia occurring in extremely cold temperatures, but that doesn’t have to be the case. It can happen anytime that you are exposed to cool, damp conditions. Older people are more susceptible to hypothermia.

Two things to remember about hypothermia is that…

  1. You don’t need to be experiencing sub-zero temperatures to encounter hypothermia and …
  2. Your judgment will be impaired making you much more likely to experience an accident.

If you, or someone in your group, becomes hypothermic, take immediate action before it becomes a severe emergency!

Hypothermia symptoms include:

  • Uncontrollable shivering (although, at extremely low body temperatures, shivering may stop)
  • Weakness and loss of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Pale and cold skin
  • Drowsiness – especially in more severe stages
  • Slowed breathing or heart rate

If not treated promptly, lethargy, cardiac arrest, shock, and coma can set in.

Hypothermia can even be fatal.

Hypothermia signs that can be observed by others:

  • Slowing of pace, drowsiness, fatigue
  • Stumbling
  • Thickness of Speech
  • Amnesia
  • Irrationality, poor judgment
  • Hallucinations

  • Loss of perceptual contact with environment
  • Blueness of skin
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Decreased heart and respiration
  • Stupor
  • Death

Victims need IMMEDIATE help if the following symptoms are present:

If you observe ANY of these hypothermia symptoms or signs in yourself or anyone in your party, seek immediate help:

  • Poor articulation of words
  • Disorientation
  • Decrease in shivering followed by rigidity of muscles
  • Cyanosis (Blueness of Skin)
  • Slowness of pulse, irregular or weak pulse