Hypothermia

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

download word file, 4 pages 0.0

Downloaded 538 times

Hypothermia In this essay I am going to explain what hypothermia is. How can one be exposed to get hypothermia and who are the people who are most likely to get it when exposed to the cold. I am also going to discuss How to prevent hypothermia or death when caught in cold water. What the symptoms and consequences of it are and their treatments. How it can be used for medicinal purposes.

Hypothermia is a condition in which body temperature falls drastically as a result of the exposure to the cold. The average temperature of the human body is 37 degrees Celsius. If the body temperature drops a few degrees above or below the person is at serious risk, if it drops below it is called hypothermia. It can occur rapidly, during cold water immersion with the temperature of the water at around 10 degrees Celsius and below.

It depends on how long the person is immersed. Safety experts estimate that half of all drowning victims actually die from the fatal effects of cold water, or hypothermia, and not from water filled lungs.

A person can be exposed to hypothermia when they are in cold weather and improperly dressed or submerged in cool water for a long period of time. There are even reported cases of elderly people dying of hypothermia in their homes do to the non-efficient heating system. Over 50% of hypothermia deaths in Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia are related to alcohol and drug intoxication.(Seluge,1) Hypothermia can also occur when a person has illnesses or health problems such as heart circulatory, or thyroid diseases; diabetes, arthritis, and other conditions that prohibit mobility. Having these conditions can interfere with the body's ability to fight the cold. When a person is fatigue or in poor physical condition, or drinking alcohol, wearing inadequate clothing, or taking combinations of medications it may also lead to hypothermia in cool or cold weather. Drinking alcohol may lower the body's temperature and dull the awareness of the cold. Taking a combination of some medications can actually lower the body's resistance to the cold. Infants and the elderly are most vulnerable to hypothermia for they have less body mass. It is a proven fact that large people cool slower than small people therefore children cool faster than adults.

To prevent hypothermia one should dress warmly in cold weather, find out if the medications one is taking will may make them more vulnerable to the cold, eat nutritious well-balanced meals, and exercise daily. If a person is immersed in cold water their survival depends on many factors. They are the temperature of the water, body size, and the activity they do in the water. If a person remains still they will cool 35% slower than a person treading or swimming.(Seluge,1) They should wear a life preserver since it will conserve energy and will keep the person afloat when he/she is unconscious. The person should keep as much of their body out of the water as possible because water removes heat from the body many times faster than air. People should stay away from frozen bodies of water if the ice appears to be weak.

The symptoms of hypothermia are difficulty in walking, shallow breathing, stumbling, a bloated face, confusion, slurred speech, shivering, drowsiness, weakness/fatigue, trembling on one side of the body, and a weak pulse. In cases of severe hypothermia, breathing becomes slow and shallow, the person may become unconscious, the muscles are often stiff, brain damage, and the heart may beat only faintly and irregularly to the point where it can be undetectable. Do to these difficulties, death can easily occur. In cases of hypothermia the victim requires immediate medical attention. They can be treated by covering the body's "hot-spots" (where a great deal of heat is lost). These "hot-spots" are the head, neck, sides, and groin. They can be covered with hot water bottles, heating blankets, or warm moist towels. Another method of treating hypothermia is in halation rewarming. It is when a patient is given an inhalation of warm, water-saturated air at the temperature of 43-45 degrees Celsius. This is effective when wanting to stabilize a victim. In the New England Journal of Medicine studies show that using a procedure known as cardiopulmonary bypass to rewarm the blood has successful long term effects in some accidental hypothermia patients. The bypass procedure is a major heart operation that stops the heart.(Dr. Harold L. Lazar, 1) A person suffering from hypothermia should not be given anything to drink, especially alcohol since alcohol can lower the body's temperature. They should not rub the frozen areas or wrap the victim in a blanket that does not have a heat source to protect them from any further heat loss.

Shockingly, hypothermia may also be induced for medical purposes. Hypothermia gradually slows the central nervous system that decreases the metabolism and reduces the body's temperature. This is useful in certain types of surgery and to reduce bleeding in a particular part of the body. Studies have shown that using mild hypothermia can protect the cerebral cortex of the brain. The effect of the cold influences blood flow and the brain-blood barrier. (Iazzo,1) Hopefully, my essay on hypothermia gave you a better understanding on what hypothermia is. How people are exposed to it and who are usually the types of people that fall victim to it. What the symptoms, treatments, and consequences of getting hypothermia are. How the use of hypothermia can be used for medicinal purposes. All these things above individually explain what hypothermia is and the situation it occurs and arises, reading this essay will hopefully make you more informed on hypothermia.