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What are the Different Hypothermia Causes?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2016
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Hypothermia is a condition in which the body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) and some essential functions of the body begin to shut down. Hypothermia can lead to severe illness or death, and proper precautions must be taken any time hypothermia causes are present. Some of the most common hypothermia causes are cold temperatures and inadequate protections against cold temperatures; illness; old age and the body's inability to properly heat itself; and exposure to other cold environments for a prolonged period of time. Children and the elderly are most susceptible to hypothermia.

Many at-risk populations, such as the homeless, are in danger of hypothermia, especially at night and during the winter months in cold climates. Continued exposure to cold temperatures is the most common of the hypothermia causes, and since homeless populations spend almost all their time outdoors exposed to the elements, it is not uncommon for them to become hypothermic. Insufficient supplies of warm clothing and shelter can couple with illnesses common among homeless populations to create a situation in which hypothermia is almost inevitable. Once the body's core temperature drops, important functions within the body slow or cease, leading to a shut-down of organs.

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Also one of the most common hypothermia causes, old age can lead to a drop in body temperature because the elderly have a difficult time producing and maintaining heat within the body. To combat hypothermia, the elderly should live in a climate-controlled environment and have access to warm clothing and blankets. Any exposure to cold environments outside the home should be limited as much as possible.

Secondary hypothermia occurs when the body acquires an illness that affects the body's ability to produce and maintain heat. It is one of the most common hypothermia causes among people with health issues. Such illnesses, like all hypothermia causes, can lead to shivering, slurred speech, and clumsiness. As the body's temperature continues to drop, the sufferer may begin to lose consciousness or enter a stupor. The body will consume less oxygen, and the sufferer may, at this point, lose consciousness altogether. The heart rate will slow and then become irregular, at which point the sufferer is at great risk of death. Immediate help should be sought at the first signs of hypothermia.

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