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Hypothermia is low body temperature. Mild hypothermia is defined as a core temperature of between 35 and 32 øC; severe hypothermia is a core temperature below 32 øC.

Monitoring of hypothermic patients requires a special low-reading thermometer.

In the young, hypothermia is likely to be the result of a single, profound insult, for example immersion in cold water.

In the aged, hypothermia is more likely to have a multifactorial aetiology, including:

  • age-related impairment of homeostasis, shivering and perception of temperature
  • economic, social and cultural factors
  • disease processes
  • drugs eg administration of diazepam, nitrazepam, reserpine

Last reviewed 01/2018