Hypothermia Treatment

1. Call 911 if you suspect hypothermia

Symptoms of hypothermia in adults and children include:

  • Confusion, memory loss, or slurred speech
  • Drop in body temperature below 95 Farenheit
  • Exhaustion or drowsiness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Numb hands or feet
  • Shallow breathing
  • Shivering

In infants, symptoms include:

  • Bright red, cold skin
  • Very low energy level

2. Restore Warmth Slowly

  • Get the person indoors.
  • Remove wet clothing and dry the person off, if needed.
  • Warm the person's trunk first, not hands and feet. Warming extremities first can cause shock.
  • Warm the person by wrapping him or her in blankets or putting dry clothing on the person.
  • Do not immerse the person in warm water. Rapid warming can cause heart arrhythmia.
  • If using hot water bottles or chemical hot packs, wrap them in cloth; don't apply them directly to the skin.

3. Begin CPR, if Necessary, While Warming Person

If the person is not breathing, start CPR immediately. Hypothermia causes respiratory rates to plunge, and a pulse might be difficult to detect.

  • Continue CPR until the person begins breathing or emergency help arrives.

4. Give Warm Fluids

  • Give the person a warm drink, if conscious. Avoid caffeine or alcohol.

5. Keep Body Temperature Up

  • Once the body temperature begins to rise, keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket. Wrap the person's head and neck, as well.

6. Follow Up

  • At the hospital, health care providers will continue warming efforts, including providing intravenous fluids and warm, moist oxygen.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on September 17, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

CDC: "Winter Weather: Hypothermia."

Red Cross: "Frostbite and Hypothermia."

Healthwise: "Hypothermia."

National Institute on Aging: "Age Page -- Hypothermia: A Cold Weather Hazard."

Merck Manual: "Hypothermia."

Journal of the American Medical Association: "Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation" and "Emergency Cardiac Care."

American Heart Association: "Cardiac Arrest in Accidental Hypothermia."

Hypothermia Information from eMedicineHealth.

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