Hypothermia is a major cause of mortality during winter in India
Avoid hypothermia in this winter by taking certain necessary precautions
According to a recent report, about 44 people died in Delhi between 1 January and 6 January, including a two-year-old child due to the cold weather conditions. Several of these deaths may probably be due to a condition called hypothermia.
Hypothermia is generally defined as having a core body temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or lower and can occur when the outside environment gets too cold or the body’s heat production decreases.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “People can die of hypothermia in the winter season. Imagine a situation when you come across people lying in an area with no clothes early in the morning. One of them is shivering and the other one is not. The one who is shivering indicates that his body is trying to compensate with the low body core temperature. The other one, who is not shivering, may be dead, dying or normal. Recall your naturopathy teaching Sar Thanda, Pet Naram and Paon Garam. If the sole of the feet and the feet are cold and the person is not shivering, this is a medical emergency. On the contrary, if the person is not shivering and the feet are warm, it is not medical emergency. Therefore, hypothermia with no shivering and hyperthermia with no sweating are bad signs.”
An individual may suffer from hypothermia if he or she has been exposed to cool temperatures and shows one or more of the following signs: slowed or slurred speech; sleepiness or confusion; shivering or stiffness in the arms and legs; poor control over body movements; slow reactions, or a weak pulse.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “In hypothermic deaths, a person can be revived even after hours of cardiac arrest. Only once the body temperature is brought back to normal CPR will be effective. That would mean that consciousness gets frozen and does not leave the body when the temperature is below 35°C. This forms the basis for induced hypothermia after death to revive the brain.”
Some tips from HCFI
Here are a few tips to help older people avoid hypothermia.
- Make sure your home is warm enough. Set the thermostat to at least 68 to 70 degrees.
- Even mildly cool homes with temperatures from 60 to 65 degrees can lead to hypothermia in older people.
To stay warm at home, wear long underwear under your clothes, along with socks and slippers. Wear several layers of warm loose clothing to help trap warm air between the layers. In India, wear a monkey cap.
- Use a blanket to keep your legs and shoulders warm and wear a hat or cap indoors.
- When going outside in the cold, it is important to wear a hat, scarf, and gloves or mittens to prevent loss of body heat through your head and hands. A hat is particularly important because a large portion of body heat can be lost through the head.
- Check if any prescription or over-the-counter medications you consume can increase your risk for hypothermia.
- Remember hypothermia with no shivering is a bad sign