Hypothermia and Dehydration

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When people think of hypothermia, the condition in which your body temperature is enough below normal that you can’t
function normally, they usually think only of the cold. But, usually dehydration plays a major role in hypothermia ... if your
blood volume is up to normal, your body can circulate enough uid to your muscles and viscera to keep you functioning.
As the blood volume decreases, mostly due to losses in breathing, the cold, dry air, chilled blood coming from your
extremities begins to cool your “core”, the organs in your torso. This triggers a reex that reduces the ow to your hands
and feet, arms and legs, even your ears and nose, letting them get further chilled to conserve heat in your core. What little
blood is owing through the extremities becomes even more chilled, and even with the restricted ow, some of this blood
mixes with that in your viscera and chills it even more. By this time you are probably shivering uncontrollably, as your body
tries to generate some heat to keep you warm and, if you are lucky, someone is bringing you some hot chocolate to warm
you up ... and, although they don’t think about it, some uid to increase your blood volume.
It is true that you can be well hydrated and become hypothermic but, under similar conditions, the person who is more
dehydrated will become chilled more quickly and thoroughly and recover much more slowly. Because water has such a high
heat capacity, taking more energy to raise its temperature and requiring more energy loss to lower its temperature than
almost any other substance, having a few more pints of uid in your body means that you are going to conserve warmth
longer. How many pints? Well, because cold air is much drier than warm air, you can lose more than two quarts (four
pints) an hour while exercising vigorously in cold air and even more at altitude. This loss in blood volume costs you several
calories per minute more than you would use to maintain the same body temperature. After four hours on the slopes, or
the tracks, your judgement and coordination are affected, you have become irritable and have trouble making the effort to
improve your situation.
Rangers in some of our National Parks and emergency response teams recognize this relationship and, in the winter, many
carry a thermos of hot VITALYTE electrolyte replacement drink or people who have become hypothermic. VITALYTE is
absorbed so quickly and is so effective that emergency medical teams call it “the oral IV”. The hot drink warms the viscera,
raising your core temperature, and is absorbed so fast that you can feel the warm uid owing into your arms and legs, even
your hands and toes, ears and nose! You should be drinking VITALYTE to maintain your uid volume and avoid dehydration
and hypothermia in the rst place ...and to avoid altitude sickness. Hot or cold, it can help you stay hydrated, keep warmer
and enjoy your winter activities more .. and more safely! Higher up = Hydrate up.
By: Bill Gookin, No. 16 in a series of occasional reports on wellness and dehydration
* For 40 years athletes have known us as Gookinaid, but we are not just a drink for athletes.
Now the world knows us as Vitalyte™, a drink for everyone. Same fast, effective formula...band new name!
**This article is the opinion, advice and testimonial of the author and your results may vary. If you have a medical
condition involving dehydration or electrolyte imbalance, you should consult a physician before following this advice.
***Documentation on le.