Patients with mild hypothermia will have a core temperature between 90 and 95°F (32-35°C).
In this stage of hypothermia, patients will shiver in an attempt to warm themselves. Patients may also be lethargic or confused.
Patients who are moderately hypothermic will have a core temperature between 82 and 90°F (28-32°C).
Patients at this stage will have an obvious motor impairment, related to increased muscle rigidity.
Hypothermia can cause manifestations similar to those related to cerebral complications. Patients in a state of moderate hypothermia may present with altered mental status, particularly slowed cognition.
Patients who are severely hypothermic will have a core temperature less than 82°F (< 28°C).
At this stage, reflexes will be absent, and the patient will no longer shiver.
Paradoxical undressing is a phenomenon in which severely hypothermic patients remove all of their clothing shortly before death. It is suggested that hypothermia-induced paralysis of the nerves in blood vessel walls leads to vasodilation, causing a feeling of extreme warmth.
The muscle of the heart becomes very irritable when it is cold. This can lead to cardiac arrhythmias such as bradycardia and atrial or ventricular fibrillation.
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