Hypothermia Symptoms

Most cases of hypothermia symptoms are preventable and it's important to not only know what is hypothermia but what the signs of hypothermia are and how to apply hypothermia first aid in yourself and in others.

What is hypothermia

Hypothermia symptoms occurs when the body's core temperature drops below normal. A normal core body temperature is 98.6 degrees F. or 37 degrees C. Hypothermia occurs when the body's core temperature dips below 95 degrees F or 35 degrees C.

Our body temperature is controlled by part of our brain and will respond to changes to the temperature of our body to maintain a normal temperature. But when the environment around us gets too cold our body will respond by generating more heat. One of these methods is shivering. Shivering generates heat to our core.

If the heat loss from our body is greater than the ability of our bodies to generate more heat our core temperature drops and hypothermia can set in. At this point the brain will focus in on our most important organs and away from our skin. This is when frostbite can also set in as a side effect to hypothermia.

Signs, Symptoms of Hypothermia and Hypothermia Prevention

The signs of hypothermia are often slow to occur and can go unnoticed. Mental functions are usually the first to be affected such as our ability to reason and think normally.

The majority of time, hypothermia occurs as a result of prolonged exposure of the body to cold temperatures either the air or cold water. This is why hypothermia is mostly preventable. When out backpacking or even on a day hike it's important to wear the right clothing and have enough layers.

I strongly recommend wearing layers made of merino wool fabric or a wool and polyester blend. These are perfect for wicking away moisture, won't absorb moisture like cotton does and merino wool acts as a great insulator. You should also wear a good outer layer for wind and rain protection.

If you are shivering, listen to your body and prevent your core from losing any more heat.

Layer up if you can. Share body heat with your hiking partners and cover yourself in any blankets or makeshift blanket you have. Always carry an emergency blanket in your backpacking first aid kit which can be a real life saver.

Get out of the cold element and wind if you can. Try to find a protected shelter. The important thing is to warm yourself back up to normal temperatures again. If you are wet or have any wet clothing on, remove them and replace them with dry clothing and coverings.

This method of hypothermia treatment should return your core body temperature to normal but it's very important to notice the early signs before hypothermia symptoms gets the best of you. And remember to cover your head with a fleece or wool toque.

Happy Hiking!

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