Accidental hypothermia is common and carries significant risk of morbidity and mortality. Hypothermia, defined when the body temperature falls below 95°F (<35°C), occurs when the body loses more heat than it can absorb or generate. It is classified as mild, moderate, severe, or profound (Table). Environmental cold exposure, near drowning, and immersion are common causes, as are trauma and intoxication. Hypothermia is not always easily diagnosed, so awareness of the presentation, associated risks, and treatment is needed. Localized cold injury, of which frostbite is the most commonly reported, is often seen with hypothermia, although it can occur alone. This In Brief reviews accidental hypothermia: both generalized and local cold injuries, their definitions, risk factors, presentations, and management.

Children are at increased risk for accidental hypothermia due to their greater body surface area-to-mass ratio and less subcutaneous fat, which leads to greater heat loss. Infants are particularly vulnerable due...

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