Hypothermia: Staying Safe in Cold Weather
This seasonal release is intended to alert older people to the dangers of hypothermia during the winter months, provide them with basic information about the condition and what to do if they suspect it in someone they know.
Akinso: Older adults are especially vulnerable to hypothermia according to a National Institute on Aging researcher.
Guralnik: Older people should be particularly careful to prevent hypothermia.
Akinso: Dr. Jack Guralnik is a NIA senior investigator.
Guralnik: Hypothermia is a condition where an individual is exposed to a cold environment and is unable to maintain his or her body temperature. There’s a result in the decline the temperature with a number of symptoms, and when this becomes severe, it can become a dangerous condition.
Akinso: The symptoms of hypothermia are slowed or slurred speech, sleepiness or confusion, shivering or stiffness in the arms and legs, poor control over body movements or slow reactions, and a weak pulse. Dr. Guralnik provides a few tips to help prevent hypothermia.
Guralnik: First in older people, who, especially those with chronic medical conditions, even a mildly cold room can have the effect of causing hypothermia. So it’s not just going out in very, very cold weather that can cause this problem. People should dress in multiple layers in order to trap the warm air that their body generates. When going outside they should be sure to dress very well especially wearing a hat to prevent loss of heat through the head and should not stay outside for overly long periods of time when cold weather is very severe.
Akinso: For more information about hypothermia, visit www.nia.nih.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.