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Treatment And Recovery From Hypothermia

Urgent care is needed


Updated July 31, 2006

The most important step in treating hypothermia is to make a person warm and dry. He or she must be seen by a doctor, preferably one who knows about the condition and who is located in a well-equipped hospital emergency room. There, the doctors will warm the body from inside out. For example, they may give the person warm fluids intravenously (I.V.).

If you suspect that a person has hypothermia and emergency help is not available right away, move the person to a warmer location, if possible, and wrap him or her in a warm blanket to stop further heat loss. You can also use your own body heat to keep the person warm. Lie close to the victim, but be gentle and do not handle the person roughly. Rubbing the person's arms and legs, as many rescuers are tempted to do, can make the problem worse.

Chances for recovery depend on how long a person was exposed to the cold and his or her general health. If body temperature has not dropped below 90° F (32.2° C), chances for a total recovery are usually good. If body temperature has fallen to between 80° F (26.6° C) and 90° F (32.2° C), most people will recover, but some lasting damage is likely. If the temperature goes under 80° F (26.6° C), most victims will not survive.

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