People have often waxed poetic about the peaceful and painless death that hypothermia brings. Some make it seem like giving in to the cold feels blissful. While it may feel good, it is something that must be feared.
Winter is coming, and along with it, the dangers of freezing temperatures. When a person is left out in the cold, it could lead to a significant drop in a person’s body temperature.
Once dangerously low, it begins to affect organs and the nervous system and even introduce heart problems. Eventually, it will lead to death.
Being out in the cold is uncomfortable. However, an odd phenomenon occurs in extreme temperatures when people are on the brink of death due to the cold.
The myth has always been that dying from the cold is a serene experience. Learning from these stories and opinions, it is best to be aware and wary of the peaceful, painless death that hypothermia brings.
What Happens in the Extreme Cold?
As stated previously, when exposed to extremely cold temperatures, people begin to experience hypothermia. It is when the body’s temperature drops off faster than the heat produced. This happens when body temperatures reach a level of 35°C and lower.
This condition brings with it a laundry list of symptoms. It is perilous, though, because people may not be aware that it is already happening to them.
Depending on how serious it is, this condition goes from mild to moderate and then severe. If left unchecked, it could lead to death.
A Blissful Death: Where Did This Come From?
One popular opinion that many people adhere to is that hypothermic death is peaceful. Some people say it is like going to sleep. This is an interesting thought, as most people are fearful of death. So, where did this come from?
Fortunately, we don’t have to look far for stories that share these consequences. One climber was found dead on the 11,000 feet summit of a mountain. He had succumbed to the extreme cold, with examiners stating it was a blissful experience.
Other people from forum boards also claim the same thing. These were either from first-hand experience or overheard from medical professionals.
What about the medical community? How do they weigh in on the issue?
The Descent to Hypothermic Death
We can look at the climber above’s account to see what happens when exposed to extreme cold for a long time. A professional from the medical community was able to analyse what took place moments before his death.
The climber was Kelly James, and this was his experience.
- Loss of coordination
- Slight changes in mental state and personality
- Bouts of amnesia and compromised memory
- Increased irrational actions
- The desire to discard warm clothing and stop eating
- Organs stop working
- Shivering stops
- An eerie calm takes over
- Victims fall unconscious and slip into a coma
How Long Does it Usually Take?
The progression toward death is mainly variable and contingent on several things. For instance, hypothermic conditions are more severe in water. This means that people can die in just under an hour.
Out of the water, it can last from hours to days and even weeks.
A Peaceful Passing
From these various experiences, it seems that this feeling of calm and bliss is inherent to the various symptoms a person goes through with hypothermia.
For starters, it is a trick that the various organs play on the brain. It makes the person feel like things are better than they are.
Besides, amidst the dread and suffering the constant cold brings, the fatalist acceptance starts to feel like a comfort.
When eventually sleep comes, as many accounts state, it is peaceful and painless. At the extreme point of severity, death comes as easy as sleep.
The Comfortable Calm of Sleep
According to several stories and opinions from medical experts, extreme hypothermic levels may bring out symptoms that make death akin to merciful sleep. While the thought may be comforting to some, we hope that what we have shared will help people experiencing hypothermia.
The lesson here is that when people feel the comfortable calm of sleep, they should fight it as it will eventually lead to death.
Knowing the proper first aid practices will be helpful when going against the extreme cold and equip you with the right skills, such as CPR, to help people in need.
Learn more about life-saving skills and the various dangerous conditions with CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course.