Elderly patients, very young patients, patients with diabetes or circulatory problems, and patients with low body fat are more susceptible to hypothermia and its complications compared to the rest of the population.


In freezing temperatures, the body’s response to hypothermia also creates an increased risk for frostbite. Frostbite occurs when body tissues freeze and crystallize. The most distal parts of the body are most susceptible to frostbite (fingers, toes, nose, and earlobes). This is where it is hardest to flood tissues with a constant flow of warm blood.

In cold environments, the first compensatory mechanism a person’s body will use to reduce heat loss is to shunt blood away from the body’s surface. This has the undesirable effect of not warming those distal points. Freezing environmental temperatures will cause freezing in tissues without fresh, warm blood to counteract it.

It is possible to develop frostbite without developing hypothermia, but the presence of frostbite is an indicator that the environment is dangerously cold and hypothermia is possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *