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Hypothermia: An Uncommon Disease

Hypothermia is defined as a state in which rectal or core body temperature is below 35 degree. In contrast with hyperpyrexia this is much less common in tropical countries.

Hypothermia is defined as a state in which rectal or core body temperature is below 35 degree. In contrast with hyperpyrexia this is much less common in tropical countries.

Etiology

Hypothermia is an uncommon medical emergency which may result from accidental exposure to very low ambient temperature 20 degree or less, or may occurs as a complication in patients suffering from variety of serious diseases like acute cerebrovascular lesions, myocardial infraction, cirrhosis liver, pneumonia, renal failure, hypoglycemia, severe infections and poisoning by barbiturates, phenothiazines and alcohol. Old age, chronic alcoholism and debilitating illness are predisposing factors. Contrary to usual impression , hypothyroidsm is a comparatively uncommon cause of hypothermia.

Clinical Features

Harmful effects of hypothermia usually appear only when rectal temperature is below 33.3 degree. The severity of symptoms is related to the intensity of hypothermia. In a moderately advanced case hypothermia slows down  circulation leading to tissue hypoxia and capillary damage, thereby causing leakage of plasma, haemoconcentration and metabolic acidosis. Thrombosis may occur at multiple sites and cardiac arrhythmias and central nervous system depression may supervene. Accordingly the skin feels dry, cold and pale, pulse and respiration are slowed, and confusion, stupor or even coma develop. Many of these features may , however, get mixed up with symptoms of the basic disease, and the only way to diagnose it is to be constantly aware of such a complication and to record the rectal temperature by a chemical thermometer whenever there is the least suspicion of hypothermic state.

General Measures

Appropriate measures should be instituted to treat and control the basic disease. Parenteral broad-spectrum antibiotics should be administered as a prophylactic against pulmonary infections.

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  1. Who hasn’t heard of hypothermia but I never knew THIS MUCH about hypothermia. This is truly informative and I think anyone who ever wondered about hypothermia does deserve to know more through this. Nice read…

  2. alot of good info for a condition for which most know the term but not that much beyond the first basic idea of what it means

  3. Good informative article.

  4. Good Work

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