Hypothermia: What Is Considered Low Body Temperature?

What Is Hypothermia?

what is low body temperature

Hypothermia is any internal body temperature measurement under 97.5° Farenheit or 36.4° Celsius. A normal body temperature range should stay between 97.5 and 99°F or 36.4 and 37.2°C. Some individuals have a naturally low body temperature that runs between 96 and 97.5°F without any cause for concern. For others, their body temperature stays within normal range and only drops due to an underlying cause. When any individual’s body temperature suddenly and unexpectedly drops lower than 95°F, they should be medically evaluated. A rapid and continuous decrease in body temperature can lead to shock, coma, organ failure, and eventually death.

Causes

Causes of hypothermia can be ongoing, chronic conditions or sudden illness and trauma. They include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • 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

types of hypothermia

Types

Hypothermia is measured in various stages, depending on how low the body temperature is.

Stage 1

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

Stage 2

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

Stage 3

Stage 3 is considered severe hypothermia. It occurs when an individual’s body temperature measures between 68 to 82.4°F or 20 to 28°C. At this stage, an individual will lose consciousness and become unresponsive.

Stage 4

Stage 4 is considered profound hypothermia. It occurs when an individual’s body temperature measures under 68°F or 20°C. At this stage, an individual’s vitals will no longer register and organs will begin to shut down.

Symptoms

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

low body temperature

 

Diagnosis

Hypothermia can be diagnosed by assessing a patient’s symptoms and then taking their internal temperature. Internal body temperature can be taken in multiple ways including an oral thermometer placed under the tongue for 30 to 40 seconds. Temperature can also be taken with a thermometer placed under the armpit for at least 30 seconds. For children younger than 5 years old, temperature is most accurate when taken rectally.

Treatment

Hypothermia should always be treated by a medical professional. If you suspect that yourself or someone else has hypothermia, seek immediate medical attention. To treat hypothermia, the patient must be moved to an adequately warm environment (not too warm). Heating pads and warm water bottles may be placed against the patient to warm their skin. Drinking warm, unsweetened beverages will help to warm the patient’s core. For patients with severe or profound hypothermia, CPR may be necessary. In rare and very severe cases, a cardiopulmonary bypass may be performed. A cardiopulmonary bypass involves drawing the patient’s own blood, warming it, and then injecting it back into the patient’s body.

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