Increase in people taken to hospital after developing hypothermia

Aug 15, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Blog Posts, Cold Weather

NSW Health is warning people to be aware of the risk of hypothermia. With the recent cold weather overnight, there has been a marked increase in the number of people, especially older people being taken to hospital after developing the condition.

Hypothermia occurs when a person’s body temperature falls below 35°C. It is an extremely serious condition and may, in some cases, be fatal.

Dr Richard Broome, Medical Epidemiologist, NSW Health said 19 people, mostly elderly, had been brought to hospital with hypothermia over the last week. 

“Elderly people are more susceptible to hypothermia, as the body’s ability to endure periods of exposure to the cold is reduced,” Dr Broome said.

“People should dress warmly, not only when they go outdoors but also when they are inside and it is cool, especially at night when the temperature drops. Click here to go to full article at NSW Government Health.

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Older people may have arthritis which restricts their mobility and sit for long periods of time, often in a poorly heated room. To compound this situation they may also suffer from poor circulation, and a poor appetite may result in them not bothering to cook a hot meal for themselves.

Keep an eye on elderly neighbours in cold weather. Don’t forget to look out for signs that an elderly neighbour is not active. These could include milk not taken in, a build up of post and papers in the letter box, curtains closed during the day or lights left on during the day, a dog barking, or the cat waiting to get in.

If you find an elderly person who may have hypothermia, call a doctor or ambulance. Hypothermia is a medical emergency and needs to be dealt with immediately. While waiting:

  • Wrap the person in blankets and quilt
  • Warm up the room
  • Give the person a warm drink. NO alcohol

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A factsheet on hypothermia can be obtained from the NSW Health website at:http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/factsheets/environmental/hypothermia.html

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