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What is it?

Hypothermia (hi-po-ther-mee-uh) is when your body temperature drops way below normal. This can cause many problems with how things work inside your body. You can die if your body temperature drops too low. Hypothermia can happen even if the weather is not that cold. Older people and children get hypothermia more easily. But, it can happen to anyone who is out in cold weather.


Being out in cold weather for a long time can cause hypothermia. Your body temperature falls faster if the weather is windy as well as cold. It is also easier for you to get hypothermia if you are wet and out in the cold. Using certain drugs, drinking alcohol can also cause hypothermia. A severe injury to your body or prolonged muscle inactivity may lead to hypothermia. Older people and children are not able to adjust very quickly to changes in the weather. This makes it easier for them to get hypothermia if they stay out in cold weather.

Signs and Symptoms:

You may shiver a lot, feel sleepy, confused, or weak. Your fingers and toes may turn blue and your muscles will not work right. You may put out an increased amount of urine. After awhile you may start to breathe slower and you may finally pass out.


Have someone take you to the hospital. While waiting for help to come, cover yourself with a blanket or take a warm (not hot) bath. If you can swallow, drink warm liquids like tea or broth (clear soup).

Do's and Don'ts:

To keep your body temperature from dropping again, wear warm clothing when out in cold weather. Dress in layers of windproof and waterproof clothing and try to stay dry. Try not to go out in really cold weather. Do not drink alcohol or smoke. It can lower your body temperature even more.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.