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What causes hypothermia?

When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body's stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won't be able to do anything about it.

Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40 degrees F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.

Dr. Leigh Vinocur, MD
Emergency Medicine Specialist

Being out in cold too long puts you at risk for hypothermia, which is having a core body temperature less than 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Those highest at risk for developing hypothermia include the elderly, who often have problems regulating their body temperature, infants and very young children who lose body heat faster than adults and may not be able to tell you they are cold. Anyone drinking too much alcohol is also at increased risk of hypothermia. Getting wet also causes you to lose body heat faster, which increases your risk of becoming hypothermic.

This content originally appeared on doctoroz.com.

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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.