Encyclopedia > Hypothermia

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Hypothermia is a medical condition in which the victim's core body temperature has dropped to significantly below normal. The victim will compensate by shivering, which increases body temperature through friction. In practice, the word "hypothermia" is typically used to describe victims whose body has stopped shivering; this is a life-threatening emergency.

There are two types of hypothermia, acute and chronic. Acute hypothermia is the more dangerous; the body temperature goes down very swiftly, often in a matter of seconds or minutes when a victim falls through an ice-covered lake. Chronic hypothermia occurs when the body temperature goes down over a longer period of time.

Simply put, first aid for hypothermia involves raising the core body temperature of the victim. This can be accomplished through the use of a fire, electrical heating, rescuer's body heat and the removal of wet clothing.

Most heat is lost through the head, so hypothermia can be most effectively prevented by covering the head.

Hypothermia is sometimes induced deliberately as preparation for surgery.

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