What are the symptoms of hypothermia?

Signs of hypothermia include the following:
  • Shivering
  • Numbness
  • Glassy stare
  • Indifference
  • Loss of consciousness
Shivering that stops without rewarming is a sign that the person’s condition is worsening. He or she needs immediate medical care.
Symptoms of hypothermia in adults include:
  • confusion
  • drowsiness
  • exhaustion
  • clumsy (or fumbling) hands
  • memory loss
  • shivering
  • slurred speech
Symptoms of hypothermia in babies include:
  • bright red and cold skin
  • very low energy
If you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95°F, call 911 or get immediate medical help. A body temperature this low is an emergency.

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 Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD
Emergency Medicine
Symptoms of mild hypothermia include:

  • Shivering
  • Loss of coordination
  • Confusion, irrational behavior
  • Urge to urinate

Symptoms of severe hypothermia include:

  • No longer shivering, muscles stiff and rigid
  • Stumbling
  • Slow breathing
  • Low blood pressure, weak pulse
  • Slow, irregular heartbeat
People with hypothermia generally do not realize they are experiencing it. They will usually be shivering with clumsiness or lack of coordination and exhibit slurred speech or mumbling. They will also have confusion or difficulty thinking and drowsiness. The skin may look pale and even purple or blue. Often those with hypothermia appear intoxicated. If the body continues to lose heat, they can lose consciousness.
(This answer provided for NATA by the Marist College Athletic Training Education Program.)
A person suffering from frostbite is also a candidate for hypothermia. Check for signs of hypothermia: slurred speech, apathy, clumsiness, cold abdomen, impaired judgment and drowsiness. If any of these symptoms are present, treat for hypothermia first and then treat for frostbite.

Mild or Moderate Hypothermia
  • Get out of the cold and wind.
  • Get into dry, warm clothing. Make sure your head is covered.
  • Remove your feet from the cold ground.
  • Warm yourself by wrapping up in a blanket or sleeping bag.
  • Drink nonalcoholic, warm liquids. If you are treating another person and he or she is unconscious or vomiting, do not give him or her beverages to drink.

Severe Hypothermia

If the person you are treating is not improving and professional help is not available, place him or her in a warm bath, 100°F to 105°F (37.8°C to 40.5°C), for 20 to 40 minutes.
Alfred D. Sacchetti, MD
Emergency Medicine
Symptoms of hypothermia develop when prolonged exposure to the cold causes the body's core temperature to drop below 95 degrees Fahrenheit (normal body temperature is 98.6).

The body shivers to produce heat through muscle activity and blood vessels temporarily narrow. Eventually, the heart and liver produce less heat, effectively shutting down to preserve whatever warmth is left and protect the brain. Breathing, heart rate and brain activity slow. Warning signs of hypothermia include:
  • shivering
  • slow, shallow breathing
  • a weak pulse
  • confusion and memory loss
  • drowsiness or exhaustion
  • slurred or mumbled speech
  • loss of coordination
In severe cases, a person with hypothermia may fall unconscious. The skin may be dark and puffy, and the muscles rigid. In infants, signs include bright red, cold skin and low energy.
Trinity Health recognizes that people seek medical information on a variety of topics for a variety of reasons. Trinity Health does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. As a Catholic health care organization, Trinity Health acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition.
Please note, the information contained on this website is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider if you have questions regarding your medical condition or before starting any new treatment. In the event of a medical emergency always call 911 or proceed to your nearest emergency care facility.
Leigh Vinocur, MD
Emergency Medicine
If you do not escape the elements and treat your hypothermia, it can become rapidly fatal. In the emergency room the progressive symptoms of hypothermia are described as the “umbles”: fumbles and stumbles, then mumbles and grumbles. First you can lose your coordination, fumbling and stumbling around. Second, you may start to lose consciousness, exhibiting slurred speech, mumbling and grumbling. Eventually, you can become completely unconsciousness and go into cardiac arrest.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.