Every year I hear about cases of people who die from abnormal time spent in cold temperatures. They experience extreme heat loss, and end up getting hypothermia. I always heard “hypothermia”, but never knew exactly what it was. What causes hypothermia? Does our body have anyway of fighting off the cold? And how can we prevent hypothermia?
Hypothermia is a condition where your body temperature drops too low, and is caused by prolonged exposure to low temperatures. Windy, and wet conditions also can result in hypothermia, if it brings down your body temperature enough. According to this article, hypothermia starts to set in when your body temperature falls past 95 F. At this point, if your body can not produce more heat than it is loosing, you could become unconscious or die. There are several symptoms that hypothermia is happening. Some include, slower breathing, clumsiness, irregular pulse, fatigue, and ignorance. Since hypothermia causes confusion, when the symptoms start to show, it might be too late. One may not notice because they become ignorant and confused.Luckily, our body instinctively will try and fight this loss of heat. According to this article, there are two responses.
1.) Saving Energy: When we start to get dangerously cold, our body focuses on our vital organs. Our body will attempt to keep them functioning the longest since they are so critical in surviving. As a result, the brain will have an increased blood flow, while our extremities will have a decreased blood flow. This is all done in an effort to reduce the amount of energy being used. The more energy, the longer your body will be able to produce heat for it’s self.
2.) Shivering: Shivering is a subconscious action done by our bodies, when we are too cold. Our body senses that our external temperature is too low, and our brains send the rest of the body signals to shiver. Shivering is when our body relaxes and tenses it’s muscles, and in turn provides warmth. This heat is the by product of the consumption of energy.
Hypothermia is dangerous, and can sneak up you. The human body can only do so much to fight off hypothermia. To prevent hypothermia, you must wear layers when possible. Layers will keep the heat your body produces in, and keep you warm. And staying dry will also help prevent hypothermia. Apparently being wet will speed up the process and will aid in an increased loss of heat. The best way to prevent it, is by making sure you do not spend too much time in the cold.