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Hypothermia: What Causes Low Body Temperature?

Hypothermia: What Causes Low Body Temperature?
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Hypothermia refers to an internal body temperature below 97.5° Farenheit or 36.4° Celsius. The body’s normal temperature should fall between 97.5 and 99°F or 36.4 and 37.2°C. Some individuals have a chronically low body temperature that stays between 96 and 97.5°F. In this instance, low body temperature is not a concern. It is when an individual’s body temperature drops suddenly and significantly that they are considered to have hypothermia. If their temperature drops below 95°F, they need to be medically evaluated right away, as a continued drop can lead to coma or even death.

What Causes Hypothermia?

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Low Metabolism
  • Diabetes
  • Organ Failure
  • Addison’s Disease
  • Shock
  • Severe Bodily Trauma
  • Hormone Imbalance
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug Abuse
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Mercury or Heavy Metal Poisoning
  • Certain Medications
  • Liver Failure
  • Kidney Failure
  • Sepsis
  • Anemia
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Dysautonomia
  • Protein Deficiency

low body temperature

Types of Hypothermia

Rather than types, hypothermia is classified in stages.

Stage 1

This stage refers to mild hypothermia. Stage 1 is when an individual’s body temperature measures between 89.6 to 95°F or 32 to 35°C.

Stage 2

This stage refers to moderate hypothermia. Stage 2 is when an individual’s body temperature measures between 82.4 to 89.6°F or 28 to 32°C.

Stage 3

This stage refers to severe hypothermia. Stage 3 is when an individual’s body temperature measures between 68 to 82.4°F or 20 to 28°C and the individual loses consciousness and becomes unresponsive.

Stage 4

This stage refers to profound hypothermia. Stage 4 is when an individual’s body temperature measures under 68°F or 20°C. At this stage, the individual’s vitals will no longer register and their organs will begin shutting down.

Hypothermia Symptoms

  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Cold Skin
  • Shivering
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Slow Heart Rate
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Slurred Speech
  • Slowed Breathing
  • Cardiac Arrhythmias
  • Bright Red Skin

Diagnosing Hypothermia

Taking an individual’s temperature is the best way to confirm that they have hypothermia, along with their presenting symptoms. Internal body temperature can be taken orally or under the armpit with a thermometer. In children younger than 5 years old, the temperature is most accurate when taken with a rectal thermometer.

Treating Hypothermia

Hypothermia needs to be treated promptly by a medical professional. If you suspect that you or someone you know has hypothermia, you need to seek immediate medical attention. Treating hypothermia requires the patient to be put in a warm (not hot) environment. Heating pads and warm water bottles can be used to warm the patient up by being placed around their body. Drinking warm beverages can also help. In severe or profound hypothermia, the patient may need CPR. In very severe cases, a cardiopulmonary bypass may be necessary. This requires the patient’s own blood to be drawn, warmed up, and then injected back into their body.

low body temperature

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