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Hypothermia – the state when body temperature drops below that which is required for normal metabolism and bodily functions. This starts occurring at 95°F (35°C), just a few degrees below the body’s core temperature 98°F (37°C).
THE BODY’S HEAT PRODUCTION
Body heat is created by burning food, such as fat, carbohydrates, and protein. The heat is produced primarily in the muscles, and increases with the activity of muscle groups throughout the body. In a cold environment, the body needs external help to maintain its core temperature. Dressing right and staying active will help fight against the cold.
WHEN THE BODY GETS COLD
When the body gets cold, a natural defense mechanism fights to generate heat through the act of shivering. Shivering can increase the body’s natural heat production 4-5 times. The body also decreases blood flow to the hands and feet in order to prioritize heat to the heart, brain, and other vital organs. This loss of heat to the extremities is the cause of most frostbite injuries.
Perspiring is a normal reaction when the body is too hot and needs to cool down. The skin cools because the moisture from sweat evaporates. This cooling process is effective in a hot climate, but in cold weather heavy sweating can prove devastating. Stagnant moisture against the skin chills and lowers core body temperature.