Hypothermia - Symptoms

What symptoms did you experience with hypothermia?

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What are the signs and symptoms of hypothermia?

The body starts to slow as the temperature drops. Aside from the cold that is felt and the shivering that may occur, mental function is most affected initially. A particular danger of hypothermia is that it develops gradually, and since it affects thinking and reasoning, it may go unnoticed.

  • Initial hunger and nausea will give way to apathy as the core body temperature drops.
  • This is followed by confusion, lethargy, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, and coma.
  • Often the affected person will lie down, fall asleep, and die. In some cases, the patient will paradoxically remove their clothes just before this occurs.

The decrease in brain function occurs in direct relationship to the decrease in body temperature (the colder the body, the less the brain function). Brain function stops at a core temperature of 68 F (20 C).

The heart is subject to abnormal electrical rhythms as hypothermia progresses. Ventricular fibrillation, a disorganized rhythm in which the heart is unable to pump, may occur at core temperatures below 82.4 F (28 C). This is one type of cardiac arrest.

Hypothermia Symptoms by Body Temperature
Celcius Farenheit Description Symptoms
37 98.6 No hypothermia No hypothermia
Below 35 95 Definition of hypothermia N/A
32 to 35 89.6 to 95 Mild hypothermia
  • Shivering
  • Legarthy, apathy, confusion
  • Rapid heart rate
28 to 32 82.4 to 89.6 Moderate hypothermia
  • Shivering stops
  • Increased confusion or delirium
  • Slowing heart rate; may become irregular
Below 28 Below 82.4 Severe hypothermia
  • Coma
  • Ventricular fibrillation
  • May appear deceased
20 68 Severe hypothermia Brain activity stops
Return to Hypothermia

See what others are saying

Comment from: Lewis, 35-44 Male (Caregiver) Published: October 11

At night the temperature drops to 18 degrees Celsius with my environment air-conditioned and cooled all the time. This has caused my breathing to be difficult and I've developed hypothermia symptoms even though I am in the tropics. I cough out blood-stained mucous especially in the morning.

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Comment from: Hard worker, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: January 08

I was working alone but yet out in the open exposed to bitterly cold air in North Dakota. Wind chills were -45 to -55 below zero. I had very little sleep over the course of 5 days. I was on call at my job 24 hours a day. I had been out in the field for 24 hours straight. I was in and out of doors in spurts to work and stay warm. Finally I was working outside and I quit feeling cold but yet I felt the wind still blowing on me, then I started to shiver like never before, it wasn't a cold shiver but like my body was shaking. I started to feel very tired and lethargic, at one point I felt like taking off my coat and sitting outside on the stairs in the wind. As I walked back to my vehicle I felt weak in my legs like I was going to fall to the ground at any moment. I made it back to the truck and rested with the heater blowing on me, ate and drank water. I still feel weak and now sick to my stomach. But I have at least another 10 hours of work ahead of me. Shivering/ shaking is still present, and my feet have not yet warmed up.

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