Tag Archives: Hypothermia

More Hypothermia Info for Medical Air Transport Paramedics

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.

What You Need to Know about Hypothermia When Providing Medical Air Transport

When you’re working as a care provider for medical air transport, you come across different kinds of patients. Although you will most often encounter trauma patients, you might even have to conduct search and rescue missions if you’re based at a remote location. That’s when you might come across patients with accidental hypothermia.

Even in other cases when the patient has an underlying condition, there may be chances of hypothermia occurring. It’s important to carefully understand the condition so you can provide necessary pre-hospital care.

Understanding the Causes of Hypothermia

First of all, you should understand that accidental hypothermia can be of two types – primary and secondary. When the body is exposed to a cold environment for extended periods of time, it can result in primary hypothermia. In other words, this type of hypothermia isn’t caused by an underlying condition.

Secondary hypothermia, on the other hand, can occur when the body’s ability to regulate its heat balance is disrupted or there’s a decreased ability to generate or conserve heat. Burn victims, stroke patients, sepsis patients, etc. may be susceptible to hypothermia. Medical air transport providers should also watch out for hypothermia in patients with hypopituitarism, hypothyroidism, hypoadrenalism, or hypoglycaemia.

Substances like sedatives, alcohol, beta-blockers, antipsychotics, and oral antihyperglycemics can also result in conditions that cause secondary hypothermia. Major trauma, tumours, CNS injuries, and infusion or cold fluids could also be other possible causes.

Identifying Hypothermia Symptoms for Medical Air Transport Care Providers

Although it’s a bit of a challenge to recognize hypothermia, you can look for signs like depressed vital signs, speech difficulty, memory problems, mydriasis, behavioral disturbances, etc. You might also notice that patients with hypothermia may fail to shiver even if they’re obviously cold. Their pulse and respiration may also be a bit more difficult to detect although present.