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date: 23 May 2022


The Oxford Dictionary of Sports Science & Medicine

Michael Kent

An abnormally low body core temperature resulting in a rapid and progressive mental and physical collapse. When the core temperature goes below 34.5 °C, the body loses its ability to regulate temperature. Hypothermia is usually caused by prolonged exposure to cold, especially in wet and windy conditions when a person is suffering from physical exhaustion and lack of food. Immersion in water at temperatures below 32 °C, results in hypothermia developing at a rate proportional to either the duration of exposure or the temperature gradient. Sufferers have a weak pulse because heart rate and cardiac output are reduced. They often become irrational and slow to respond. They are cold to touch, and have speech and visual difficulties. Treatment of mild hypothermia includes warming in a controlled manner with warm blankets or a warm bath. Application of external heat direct to the body surface, enforced exercise, rubbing the skin, or taking alcohol can be dangerous because they can result in further heat losses. Severe hypothermia requires expert medical attention; it can be fatal if not treated properly.... ...

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