Causes of Hypothermia

In this article, we will discuss various Causes of Hypothermia. So, let’s get started.

Causes

Extreme environmental conditions can cause hypothermia in healthy individuals. It may be primary (from exposure to cold or extremely low temperature) or secondary (thermoregulatory dysfunction) or both. Most severe hypothermia occurs in person with underlying medical conditions either due to excessive heat loss (environmental exposure) or inadequate heat production or both processes are involved. It is hereby stressed that the body temperature should never fall below environmental temperature.

Causes of hypothermia are discussed below:

1. Excessive heat loss

a. Environmental exposure

  • Accidental with high wind velocity (wind chill factor) or direct contact with cold surface
  • Iatrogenic, e.g. cold weather injury, inadequate clothing

b. Increased continuous blood flow

  • Bum, psoriasis, toxic epidermal necrolysis

2. Inadequate heat production

a. Inadequate metabolism

  • Malnutrition and/or starvation
  • Hypothyroidism, adrenal insufficiency
  • Hepatic failure
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis and hypoglycemia

b. Altered thermoregulation

  • Sepsis
  • Uremia and hepatic dysfunction
  • Hypothalamic dysfunction, e.g. head trauma, stroke, tumor
  • Spinal cord injury – T1 or above
  • Shapirco’s syndrome (episodic spontaneous hypothermia with hyperhidrosis)

c. Drug-induced

  • Barbiturates, phenothiazines, opiates, lithium, benzodiazepines, anesthetics, neuromuscular blockers
  • Alcohol
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