Hypothermia Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on September 15, 2019

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 them 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



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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