Hypothermia is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when a person's internal body temperature is less than 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Normal body temperature is about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. When hypothermia occurs, the body loses heat faster than it is able to produce heat.
Hypothermia is typically caused by prolonged exposure to cold air or cold water. Individuals who participate in winter activities, such as skiing, snowboarding, sledding, ice skating, ice fishing, and hunting, have an increased risk of experiencing hypothermia. Homeless and elderly individuals are also more likely to develop hypothermia.
Severe hypothermia (when the body temperature is 90 degrees or less) may lead to coma or cardiac arrest, both of which may be deadly. An estimated 700 Americans die each year from hypothermia, according to secondary sources. Therefore, individuals should receive prompt medical care as soon as symptoms of hypothermia develop. Warning signs of hypothermia generally include uncontrollable shivering, fatigue or exhaustion, slurred speech, disorientation, and a loss of muscle coordination.
With prompt treatment, people can survive hypothermia. Being aware of warning signs of hypothermia and knowing appropriate first aid responses can help reduce the risk of complications.

Related Terms

Body temperature, cardiac arrest, chills, coma, frostnip, heat loss, hypothermic, low body temperature, shivering, uncontrolled shivering.