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What are the Different Types of Hypothermia Treatments?

By Laura Evans
Updated May 17, 2024
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Hypothermia treatments depend in part on where the victim is and whether he can be immediately warmed. If the person cannot be moved to a warmer location, the individual should be moved to a place that is protected from the wind and cold as much as possible, should have any wet clothing removed and replaced with dry clothing, and should be placed on barriers such as jackets or blankets to protect the individual from cold seeping up from the ground. Sharing body heat with an person who is warm can also help bring up the victim's body temperature. When the victim can be taken to a warmer location, the person should be given warm, non-alcoholic drinks and warm, dry compresses should be placed on groin area, the neck, or the chest area as needed.

Victims of hypothermia should be treated at a hospital, if possible. Emergency hospital hypothermia treatments include removing blood, warming it mechanically and returning the blood to the body. Doctors also might inject warm salt water into the bloodstream, and send warm salt water through a tube from the throat to the stomach.

Hypothermia occurs when a body temperature is lower than 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees C). At these low temperatures, the body does not function correctly. Without the appropriate hypothermia treatments, severe hypothermia can lead to death.

Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering and cold skin. The individual may be confused, uncoordinated, tired, and uncaring about the circumstances. Hypothermia can develop so slowly that the victim may not even be aware that he is in a potentially fatal situation.

Some people are more at risk of developing hypothermia than others. For example, people who have an under-active thyroid, or hypothyroidism, may develop hypothermia more easily than those who do not have this medical condition. Those who are drinking alcohol are more likely to develop hypothermia because alcohol fools the senses and can make a person believe he is warm when he is getting colder. Young children and the elderly are also more vulnerable to developing hypothermia.

Some home remedies used as hypothermia treatments can cause more harm than good. For example, some think that the person who has hypothermia should be massaged vigorously. If the individual has frostbite, massaging can damage the frostbitten area more severely.

Some people also mistakenly believe an effective hypothermia treatment involves putting an affected person into hot water or under the light of a heat lamp. Doing either of these things can force the cold blood from the arms and legs back into the core parts of the body. Moving cold blood back into the most vital parts of the body, such as the heart, lungs, and brain, affects the body negatively and can lead to death.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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