There’s much more to hypothermia than the air temperature. Here’s are five hypothermia causes that don’t involve the thermometer.
Causes of Hypothermia: Getting Wet
When you are wet, you get cold a lot quicker, and at higher temperatures, than when you are dry.
Wet clothes conduct heat about five times more rapidly than air. When you are immersed
in water, you conduct heat 25 times faster than when you are surrounded by air. Your body temperature can get dangerously low in any water below about 91°F (33°C). Of course, the colder the water, the faster your body temperature drops.
Hypothermia-related deaths occur annually in boating accidents and the like, which explains most of the hypothermia deaths in Florida and Hawaii.
Causes of Hypothermia: Alcohol and Drugs
These substances dull your senses (especially if you pass out, to point out the obvious), so you don’t realize you’re cold until it’s too late.
Alcohol also dilates (increases the size of) surface veins, so your blood flows closer to the surface of your skin, releasing body heat that is normally kept in your core for your vital organs.
Causes of Hypothermia: Trauma
Trauma can wreak havoc with body temperature regulators. Also the victim might not notice how cold she is getting due to pain or an impaired mental status.
If you’re treating a trauma victim, remember to cover the victim with a blanket or whatever is available. Also get the person out of wet clothes.
Causes of Hypothermia: Age
As you age, your temperature regulators don’t work as well. The decline can begin even as young as age 65.
Children under age three have more skin surface versus body mass. Heat escapes through the skin, so they lose heat faster. In addition, the cold has a tendency to sneak up in on both these age groups before anyone notices.
Causes of Hypothermia: Chronic Diseases
Hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s, heart disease and severe infections are examples of the many problems that affect your body’s heat regulation. People with these issues can’t fight off the cold as well as people without health issues.