Hypothermia: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

In hypothermia, the body temperature is dangerously low (below 95 F or 35 C), and the body has lost capacity to regulate its temperature. The symptoms typically begin gradually, and eventually, thought process and brain function are affected. Symptoms include

  • shivering,
  • slow breathing,
  • weak and slow pulse, and
  • drowsiness.

Mood changes, irritability, poor coordination, confusion, poor judgment, slurred speech, and gait disturbances are common. Sometimes affected people remove their clothing in spite of a cold environment (paradoxical undressing). There is a progressive decrease in consciousness, and coma may ensue.

Causes of hypothermia

The cause of hypothermia is the inability of the body to regulate its core temperature. This is mainly due to prolonged exposure to cold.

Related Symptoms & Signs


Li, James. "Hypothermia." Medscape.com. Sept. 9, 2016. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/770542-overview>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/1/2017
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