When you think “hypothermia”, you probably think of snow, frigid conditions, and below-zero temperatures. During these hot summer days spent sunbathing and boating, hypothermia likely isn’t crossing your mind!
But, believe it or not, you can also get this dangerous condition in the summertime.
In fact, according to the Farmers’ Almanac, more people die from hypothermia during the summer each year than during the winter.
Given that we still have some fun in the sun left, we want to make sure that everyone knows how to recognize and treat hypothermia in the summer months.
What is Hypothermia and What Are the Symptoms?
Hypothermia is a condition that results when the body’s internal temperature falls below 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). This means that hypothermia can occur during any weather condition.
The most common symptoms of hypothermia are:
- Loss of coordination
- Slurred speech
- Cold, bright red skin (occurring mostly in children)
In severe cases, hypothermia can lead to:
- Heart attack
- Respiratory failure
If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.
For information on how cold can affect the body, check out our blog How to Protect Your Heart from the Cold!
Causes of Hypothermia in the Summer
Hypothermia in the summer can actually arise from a variety of common summer activities.
Swimming in cold water is a common cause of hypothermia, as being immersed in frigid water for long enough will cause your body to lose warmth. In extreme cases of hypothermia, individuals may start to feel warm while swimming.
Wet clothing can escalate the body’s heat loss by 5-10 times, increasing the likelihood of hypothermia occurring.
Other causes can include:
- Alcohol consumption (causes the blood vessels to dilate, giving the illusion of warmth)
- Age (children tend to lose heat from their bodies faster than adults)
- Certain medical conditions (such as high blood pressure)
- Dehydration (lowers blood volume and decreases circulation)
How to Prevent Hypothermia in the Summer
No need to worry, you don’t have to be afraid to go outside – there are several ways to prevent hypothermia in the summer.
Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, is a great way to protect yourself against hypothermia. Dehydration interferes with the body’s core temperature, so staying hydrated is absolutely essential.
If you start feeling cold or tired, drink some warm fluids slowly.
After swimming, be sure to dry off completely using a towel or warm up in the sun. If you are wearing wet clothing, change out of them quickly.
Stick to Warmer Water
Choose to swim in areas where the water is warm, and don’t stay in the water for too long.
Treatment for Hypothermia
Treatment for hypothermia in the summer (or any season) usually involves rewarming the body slowly and carefully. This is done either through external methods like hot packs and blankets or by medical intervention, such as inserting a tube into the stomach to provide warm fluids directly.
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to warm the body internally.
Because hypothermia in the summer can be caused by a variety of things, it’s important to take the proper precautions to keep yourself safe. Actions such as drying off completely and not spending too much time in cold waters are easy ways to protect yourself against hypothermia.
Remember, if you’re feeling especially chilly, drenched, or excessively tired during the summer, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and seek medical attention – just to be on the safe side!