low body temperature

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15 of the Worst Things to Do If You’re Stranded in the Cold

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH In 2002, a couple of years after he won the Olympic gold medal in wrestling, Rulon Gardner went snowmobiling in Wyoming. “I told myself it would be a short trip,” he told the Associated Press. “We were going to go out about three hours and get home for dinner.” But he got lost and ended up stranded for 17 hours. The temperature reached as low as 25 below zero, according to the AP. […]

By | February 23rd, 2015|Cold, Weather|11 Comments

When Low Blood Pressure, Low Temperature, or Abnormal Lab May be Good

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH A few weeks ago a patient I was seeing in the office asked me to look at a copy of his lab work he’d received from an alternate medicine provider. It was the usual chemistry screen and all looked great, to me at least. But two figures were circled, a slightly low creatinine level and a slightly high BUN/creatinine ratio, and yes, the lab printout had those in the out-of-normal range. His provider had asked that he come back in several weeks and have them rechecked. The retest would cost around $150. This jogged my memory of some wise advice one of my medical school professors taught: Doing a medical test is useless if you have no idea what you’re going to do with the results. And you’re not going to do much if there’s no danger from a slight abnormality. This goes for everyday situations and survival ones. […]

By | December 8th, 2014|General|4 Comments

Video: How to Get Yourself Out of a Hole–Ice Hole, That Is

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. In my post "How to Survive If You Fall Into Cold Water," I wrote about what to do if you fall through the ice. My second-born, Beth Nelson—a paramedic in Alaska—sent [...]

By | January 24th, 2012|Cold, Videos, Weather|1 Comment

How to Survive If You Fall Into Cold Water

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. A few days ago, in a nearby town, a man in his forties drowned. Apparently he was chasing his dog, and they fell through the ice. He got the dog out but not himself. Horrible And, although I don’t know any details, it makes me think of the many deaths like this that are preventable. Of course there’s the obvious: Don’t walk on thin ice. The weather’s been pretty warm here in Colorado, and the ice on the ponds is never very thick anyway. But, according to one article I read, our firemen and rescuers spend a fair amount of time chasing people off iced ponds. So what can you do if you or someone else takes an accidental plunge? It helps to know what happens when you fall into cold water. […]

By | January 19th, 2012|Cold, Weather|7 Comments

When 50 Degrees Is Too Cold: Causes of Low Body Temperature

Second of a five-part series about low body temperature. by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. You’d think a cold, snowy mountain would be the setting for most deaths from low body temperature (hypothermia). But that’s not the case. Most people die in urban areas—many inside. In fact, almost every year there are deaths in Florida—sometimes even Hawaii. There must be something besides cold weather that can cause a low body temperature. There is. […]

By | December 27th, 2011|Cold, Weather|10 Comments

Low Body Temperature: More Than Frostbite (and More Dangerous)

First of a five-part series about low body temperature. by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Scenario one: You’re out on a morning walk, maybe hunting your breakfast. It’s cool, a little breezy, but not freezing. In fact, you work up a good sweat, take off your coat. You find a spot and sit a bit. You start getting hungry and a little nauseous. It’s that empty stomach. Before long, you get up—but forget your way back home. What’s going on? Scenario two: You visit your great-uncle to ask some advice. He’s getting up there in age but still sharp as a tack. He doesn’t answer the door. You go inside, and you can see your breath. He’s snoring in the bed, covers thrown off, stripped down to his underwear. What’s the deal? Carbon monoxide? Stroke? In both of these scenarios, a low body temperature should be high on your cause list. In medicine we call this hypothermia, and you don’t have to be in a snowstorm or on a mountaintop to get it. in fact, it’s not that unusual to read of hypothermia-related deaths in the Deep South, even Florida. Even Hawaii. Well, how cold is too cold? I’m going to tell you. But first let’s talk about how our body keeps us warm. […]

By | December 22nd, 2011|Cold, Weather|8 Comments

Conquering the Cold with Coors: Not Recommended But Whatever Works

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. As you’ll see in my upcoming five-part series on hypothermia, it’s not the cold weather that gets you. It’s how you handle it. If it were just the cold, the man stuck in his car for three days near Nome, Alaska, would have perished. But he didn’t. Sixty hours in the wilderness. It got down to 17 below zero at night, not even counting windchill.He cranked his car once a day (the gauge was on empty) for a little heat and waited, wearing tennis shoes, jeans, and a cheap coat. No food. How can somebody survive like that? Personally, I think it was the Coors. […]

By | December 20th, 2011|Cold, Weather|10 Comments