DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 F (37 C). Hypothermia (hi-po-THUR-me-uh) occurs as your body temperature passes below 95 F (35 C).
When your body temperature drops, your heart, nervous system and other organs can't work correctly. Left untreated, hypothermia can eventually lead to complete failure of your heart and respiratory system and to death.
Hypothermia is most often caused by exposure to cold weather or immersion in a cold body of water. Primary treatments for hypothermia are methods to warm the body back to a normal temperature.
- Extreme cold: A prevention guide to promote your personal health and safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/pdf/cold_guide.pdf. Accessed April 11, 2011.
- Hypothermia: A cold weather hazard. National Institute on Aging. http://www.nia.nih.gov/NR/rdonlyres/6A2BEFB0-7D47-4978-9DF0-8638A6318685/15253/Hypothermia.pdf. Accessed April 1, 2011.
- Hypothermia. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/print/sec21/ch319/ch319d.html. Accessed April 1, 2011.
- Mechem CC, et al. Accidental hypothermia in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 1, 2011.
- McCullough L, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of hypothermia. American Family Physician. 2004;70:2325.
- Jurkovich GJ. Environmental cold-induced injury. Surgical Clinics of North America. 2007;87:247.
- Frostbite and hypothermia. American Red Cross. http://www.redcross.org/www-files/Documents/Preparing/Frostbite_and_Hypothermia.pdf. Accessed April 1, 2011.
- Winter safety tips. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/decwintertips.cfm. Accessed April 1, 2011.
- Angert D, et al. Preventing injuries and illnesses in the wilderness. Pediatric Clinic of North America 2010;57:683.
- Hypothermia and cold water. Canadian Red Cross. http://www.redcross.ca/print.asp?id=015204. Accessed April 1, 2011.
- Cold water survival tips. U.S. Army Core of Engineers and U.S. Coast Guard. http://www.army.mil/-news/2011/02/03/51309-cold-water-survival-tips-from-usace-and-uscg/. Accessed April 1, 2011.