Having a normal body temperature is one of the signs of being healthy, free from any disease or illness. Ideally, it should be 98.6 °F or 37.0 °C. Slight change or fluctuation in this temperature is possible, and it does not mean any abnormality. However, if the temperature rises or falls drastically (a couple of degrees over or under), it is a sign of some abnormal condition or disorder. Here we will see more on a condition known as hypothermia, where a person suffers from abnormally low body temperature.
Body temperature can fall due to numerous reasons like being exposed to cold weather or wearing soaked or wet clothes for a long time. On the other hand, abnormally low body temperature can also be a potential symptom of the following diseases and disorders:
- Addison's Disease
- Drug/alcohol abuse
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Side effects of medications
It should be noted that this is a serious condition and can lead to other life-threatening conditions, organ damage, and even death. Therefore, it is essential to know and identify the signs and symptoms.
Shivering is one of the most obvious and easily recognizable symptoms. Shivering is accompanied with chattering of teeth and goose bumps. Apart from it, following symptoms are observed:
- Slow heartbeat
- Shallow breathing
- Purple finger and toes
- Lack of coordination
- Difficulty in making decision
- Slurred speech
- Dilated pupils
- Weak pulse
In minor cases, wearing warm clothes or shifting to warm environment is the best way to generate heat in the body. Secondly, you can rub your palms and feet to increase the body temperature. It is recommended not to massage heavily or vigorously. Having hot drinks like tea, coffee, hot soups, sitting by the fireside can help in bringing the temperature back to normal. Parents should keep a careful watch on the rise and fall of body temperature in babies and infants.
On the other hand, in case low body temperature occurs as a result of some disease or illness, other related symptoms are also experienced. In this case, it is wise to consult the doctor immediately. The doctor will undertake tests to diagnose the disease, and advise medications and treatment methods. Airway rewarming, cavity lavage, etc. are some of the treatment methods to cure hypothermia. Lastly, one of the most important things to note is that a person suffering from this condition should never be exposed to direct heat, as it can lead to complications due to the sudden and severe temperature change in the body.
As preventive measures, it is recommended to be properly dressed and covered, when stepping out in cold. Secondly, you should remove wet clothes as soon as possible and try to keep yourself warm. Lastly, in case you cannot provide first-aid to a person immediately in case he suffers from hypothermia, you should look for emergency medical treatment.
Disclaimer: This article is meant only to provide information. It is advised to consult the doctor for proper advice and treatment.