Hypothermia, frostbite health concerns in extreme cold

Posted at 11:29 AM, Jan 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-14 23:45:27-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- When the temperature drops, the risk of health problems increases.

Hypothermia can set in at temperatures as high as 40 degrees. Symptoms include a body temp drops below 90 degrees, shivering, slurred speech, clumsiness, difficult thinking, weak pulse and loss of consciousness.

"And in that type of situation, your shivering stops and that's a bad sign," said Dr. Madsen. "Once the shivering stops, the body temperature really starts to drop, people get confused, lose consciousness and the big problem with hypothermia is the heart," said Dr. Troy Madsen, E.R. Doctor, University Hospital.

He said once the heart gets cold, it doesn't work as well and can cause live threatening heart rhythms.

Although young children and the elder are concerned most at risk for hypothermia, it can affect anyone.

Dr. Madsen said to keep moving when outside, especially if you start shivering.

Another cold-related issue to be aware of is frostbite.

"You may start to lose feeling to your fingers or toes, and that can be the first sign of frostbite starting to set in," Dr. Madsen said.

Schools in Utah were open Monday. However, Schools in the Preston School District, in Idaho, closed Monday due to extreme cold weather.

Latest weather forecast.

National Weather Service - Salt Lake City temperatures for January 2013.