Hypothermia - Description

People who live in cold climates are obviously at risk for hypothermia. They may be stranded out of doors overnight without protection from the cold. Their body temperatures may drop so low that they develop hypothermia. Eventually, they may freeze to death.

Hypothermia also occurs in more moderate climates during cold weather. The problem is more likely to occur among elderly and homeless people. Elderly people may not remember to keep their homes heated properly. Or they may be too poor to pay their heating bills. Their homes may remain at a constant temperature of 50° to 65°F (10° to 17°C). A continuous exposure to this temperature can cause hypothermia.

Homeless people may have to spend most of their lives out of doors. In cold weather, their body temperatures may drop to dangerously low levels. Official records indicate that nearly twelve thousand homeless people died of hypothermia between 1979 and 1994. However, these numbers are probably not accurate. Many deaths of homeless people from hypothermia probably go unreported.

Males, non-whites, and alcoholics are at high risk for hypothermia. These groups make up a large fraction of the homeless population.

A test used to determine the electrical activity of the heart to see if it is functioning normally.
A medical condition in which some part of the body has become frozen.
A condition in which a person is not eating enough of the right kinds of foods.
A serious medical condition caused by a loss of blood flow to the brain.
An organ that controls a number of important bodily functions.

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