Keeping your children bundled up while outside and safely indoors during frigid temperatures is critical. But what about all those times when you simply can't get out of the cold? As a parent, it is vital to understand as much as you can about the signs, symptoms and treatment of hypothermia in infants and children. Here are some frequently asked questions about hypothermia that you as a parent might have:
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia in Kids?
Although children and adults of all ages can suffer from hypothermia, it is often more prevalent in infants and young children. This is because younger kids and infants are less able to control their body temperature, which causes them to release body heat much faster than older children and adults.
In order to protect your whole family from hypothermia, it is vital to first learn about some of the most common symptoms of this condition, which include:
- Skin that appears reddish and cool to the touch
- Initial hunger that subsides and becomes a lack of interest in food as the body's temperature drops
- Slurred speech
- Low blood sugar, which can result in shaking and irritability
- Loss of consciousness
Sometimes, infants and children who are exposed to cold temperatures for excessive periods of time will exhibit signs of chronic hypothermia. These signs include sudden weight loss, an inability to gain weight and an inability to reach milestones.
Are There Different Stages of Hypothermia in Infants and Children?
Hypothermia occurs when the human body is unable to produce heat faster than your body is losing heat. This will lead to a drop in an individual's core body temperature. The lower the body temperature, the more severe the case of hypothermia.
Typically, there are three different stages of hypothermia:
- Stage One: If the body's temperature is between 96.8 and 97.5 degrees Fahrenheit, this is considered mild hypothermia.
- Stage Two: An individual with moderate, stage two hypothermia will have a core body temperature between 89.6 and 96.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Stage Three: The most severe stage of hypothermia occurs when an individual's body temperature drops below 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
What Should You Do if You Suspect a Child Has Hypothermia?
If your infant or child exhibits any of the symptoms of hypothermia, visit your local emergency room immediately. In cases when your infant or child passes out or is having trouble breathing, call 9-1-1 instead.
Unfortunately, if for some reason you are not able to seek medical help immediately, there are things you can do to help your infant and child. For example, take your child to a warm, dry place and remove any wet clothing. Provide your child with a lot of warm, dry blankets and if possible, share your body heat. If your infant or child is awake and has the ability to swallow, go ahead and provide them with warm liquids.
Avoid using heating pads or any other direct sources of heat. Not only can these devices burn your child's skin, they can actually cause your child's heartbeat to become irregular, which can lead to cardiac arrest.
What Can You Do to Prevent Hypothermia?
The most effective way to prevent hypothermia is to keep your child warm and dry as much as possible. While you're outside in the cold, make sure your child is wearing layers and bring them inside once they begin to shiver. Shivering is actually one of the first signs your child is becoming hypothermic.
Additionally, make sure that your child doesn't play too hard in the snow. If your child begins to sweat under all those layers, it can cause them to lose body heat more quickly, which puts them at greater risk of hypothermia.
Hypothermia is a dangerous condition that impacts children and infants more profoundly than adults. If you suspect your child is suffering from hypothermia, find out here what you should do next.