In the previous post, we talked about the causes and symptoms of hypothermia. But that’s not enough information to help medical air transport paramedics in dealing with patients who suffer from hypothermia. In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at some other important facts about the condition.
How Hypothermia Impacts People
The worst thing about hypothermia is that it can affect every single organ in the body. In the case of mild hypothermia, a patient may experience confusion, amnesia, slurred speech, and impaired judgment. As the condition worsens, a patient that was once lethargic may become comatose and their reflexes may disappear. The central nervous system also becomes unable to regulate the cardiovascular system.
Need for Medical Air Transport Paramedics to be Aware of Special Populations
What’s important for medical air transport paramedics to remember is that there are certain age groups and types of people that are more vulnerable to hypothermia. Interestingly, patients who are either extremely old or extremely young tend to be the most vulnerable age groups. Both of these age groups have less physiologic reserve in addition to a decreased ability to produce heat when needed.
Some elderly patients may be unable to sense ambient temperature, leaving them unable to protect themselves from the cold. So during winters, you may notice that some older patients can become hypothermic even just from staying inside a house that’s slightly too cold for them. Since they have decreased compensatory ability, hypothermia may develop even when the temperature doesn’t seem too cold to you.
In case of neonatal patients, they have almost zero ability to defend themselves against the cold. That is the reason why warming plays such a crucial role in resuscitating patients who fall under this category. Infants that are five days old or more may be able to metabolically compensate, but they are still extremely prone to heat loss.