These people have one thing in common - potential for hypothermia:
- Any elderly person living alone, especially with chronic disease or who has suffered a stroke.- The alcohol intoxicated.
- Those submersed in cold water.
- People suffering head trauma, especially in the outdoors.
- Those lost or immobilized in cold weather, especially if wet.
Hypothermia is classified into:
1. Mild hypothermia - shivering, loss of manual dexterity.
2. Moderate hypothermia - shivering stops, rigid muscles, stiff movements and glassy stare.
3. Severe hypothermia - coma, rigid, no pulse, with pupils fixed and dilated.
Death from hypothermia ranges from 20 to 85 percent. Keep in mind the following:
- Shivering occurs between 90 to 98 degrees Fahrenheit, but not below.
- Most thermometers do not register below 96 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Whenever possible, all treatment of hypothermia should be done in a hospital setting.
- Proper CPR can resuscitate hypothermic victims even after 3 to 4 hours.
- The American Heart Association's recommendation is that hypothermic victims should receive CPR with the exception that up to one minute be used to determine the presence of a pulse or no pulse.
- Do not overlook the possibility of frostbite. However, it is less serious than hypothermia.
It is not necessary for outdoor temperature to be below freezing for hypothermia to happen. Remember to suspect hypothermia in any person with a changed mental status.