Symptoms at a Glance

Symptoms at a Glance

Quick summary of the symptoms of Hypothermia in a hill & mountain context

Symptoms at a Glance 

Summary of Symptoms

The symptoms of hypothermia can be broadly split into three categories, which display a range of symptoms. Not all casualties exhibit all symptoms. On a walk in the UK's hills & mountains, some symptoms may not be immediately obvious, but but everyone in the party having knowledge of the symptoms, it should be possible to spot when one of the group is in decline.



  • Shivering – mild progressing to violent
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Dizzy spells
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fast heart rate but pulse could be weak & hard to find
  • Increased urination
  • High blood pressure
  • Skin cold to touch, becoming grey
  • Muscle stiffness causing lack of co-ordination
  • Lethargy/fatigue/apathy
  • Mental confusion
  • Some blurring of vision



  • Slurred speech
  • Increased confusion & Amnesia
  • Incoherent/irrational/aggressive behaviour
  • Blue lips, ears, fingers (& toes)
  • Difficult Simple movements of hands and feet - sometimes leading to trips
  • Shivering stops



  • Pupil dilation
  • Slowing breathing
  • Slowing heart rate, possibly becoming irregular
  • Sudden burst of energy
  • Paradoxical undressing
  • Terminal burrowing
  • Coma
  • Could appear deceased

There is some overlap between mild and moderate symptoms, but if someone starts to show two or three of the mild conditions you need to act quickly to ensure that a medical emergency does not follow.

You may also have heard that people with hypothermia suffer from the umbles. They mumble, grumble and stumble, which are all signs that the casualty is moving towards the moderate symptoms. Stumbling in the hills & mountains can have obvious further consequences, leading to further cooling of the body if static for a period of time.