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What causes low body temperature?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Low body temperature or hypothermia occurs when more heat is lost than the body can generate. It is usually caused by extended exposure to the cold. Common causes include: being outside without enough protective clothing, exposure to cold water, or wearing wet clothing in windy or cold weather. As people develop hypothermia, their ability to think and move is lost slowly. In fact, many people are unaware that they need emergency treatment. Someone with hypothermia from exposure is also likely to have frostbite. The symptoms of hypothermia include: drowsiness, weakness and loss of coordination, pale and cold skin, confusion, uncontrollable shivering, slowed breathing or heart rate. Lethargy, cardiac arrest, shock, and coma can set in without prompt treatment. Another cause of low body temperature is septicemia or a wide-spread infection in the body.

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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.