Hypothermia vs. Hyperthermia: What is the Difference?

Hypothermia and Hyperthermia are both conditions that can happen when the body is exposed to extreme temperatures or when the body is no longer able to regulate body temperature.  Temperature exposure is the biggest difference between hypothermia and hyperthermia. Hypothermia can happen with prolonged exposure to cold temperatures and hyperthermia can happen with prolonged exposure to hot temperatures. Taking a first aid online course with certificate can help you learn more about hypothermia and hyperthermia so that you’ll be able to learn the signs and symptoms of each and take preventative measures to stay safe.

Hypothermia can happen when you start losing body heat faster than your body can produce it.  This can happen from a variety of different factors.  Being exposed to cold weather for long periods of time, being immersed in cold water for extended periods of time and having wet clothing in cool outdoor temperatures can all trigger hypothermia.  For athletes, hypothermia is something they have to take special preventative measures against when training outdoors during the winter months.  Distance runners, triathletes, and other endurance athletes often have to train outdoors when the temperature drops.  Not wearing proper layers and being in sweaty base layer clothing can speed up the symptoms of hypothermia.

The first signs of hypothermia that can warn you to take preventative measures is shivering.  Shivering is a natural way the body will try to produce heat.  If the symptoms progress, speech can be affected and seem slurred.  Symptoms will continue to progress, and you may notice a lack of coordination, shallow breathing, low energy, and possibly memory loss.  Losing consciousness becomes critical at this point.  The symptoms of hypothermia are often gradual and the individual in need may not be aware of the situation they are in.  If you see someone that is suffering from hypothermia, it is important to move them to a warm and dry location if possible.  Wet clothing should be removed, and dry clothing, blankets, and coats can be used to dry to increase body temperature.  There are other factors that may increase your risk factors for hypothermia.  Old age and very young ages are at highest risk for hypothermia due to their body’s inability to regulate body heat.  Certain medications, alcohol or drug use, and level of exhaustion are all factors that could increase your risk factors of succumbing to hypothermia.

Hyperthermia is the opposite of hypothermia.  Hyperthermia happens when your core temperature rises too high.  Hyperthermia also happens gradually and starts with heat cramps and then progresses to heat exhaustion and eventually heat stroke if left untreated. Athletes who train or complete in the summer months are at the highest risk for experiencing symptoms of hyperthermia due to their exertion levels and prolonged exposure to high temperatures.  Factors that can influence hyperthermia are diet, electrolyte balances, exercising, heat tolerance, and acclimation.  Preventative measures can be taken to prevent hyperthermia.  Monitoring your hydration levels to prevent dehydration, supplementing electrolytes lost in sweat (potassium, magnesium, and sodium) to prevent electrolyte imbalances, and proper heat training can all help prevent symptoms of hyperthermia. First aid online courses as well as first aid renewal courses can help you learn more about staying safe in extreme temperatures. If you work with a personal trainer or sport specific coach, they have completed basic first aid CPR training and can help you stay safe from hypothermia and hyperthermia while training to meet your personal health and fitness goals.

CPR & First Aid Certification

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