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Hypothermia vs. Hyperthermia — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 3, 2023
Hypothermia is a condition where the body temperature drops below normal, while hyperthermia is when it rises above normal. Both can be life-threatening.
Hypothermia vs. Hyperthermia — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Hypothermia and Hyperthermia


Key Differences

Hypothermia and hyperthermia are medical conditions related to the body's temperature regulation but are opposite in nature. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce, leading to a dangerously low body temperature. This condition can be caused by prolonged exposure to cold environments. In contrast, hyperthermia is when the body absorbs or produces more heat than it can dissipate, resulting in an abnormally high body temperature. This can be due to extreme weather conditions or physical exertion in high temperatures.
Both hypothermia and hyperthermia are critical conditions that require immediate medical attention. With hypothermia, if left untreated, the body's organs can start to fail, potentially leading to life-threatening complications. Similarly, untreated hyperthermia can result in serious conditions like heat stroke, which can damage the brain and other vital organs.
Symptoms for these conditions vary. Hypothermia may present with shivering, slow breathing, confusion, and fatigue. Hyperthermia can manifest as heavy sweating (or sudden cessation of sweating), rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and altered mental states. Notably, while hypothermia is more common in cold climates or water, hyperthermia often occurs in hot and humid conditions.
It's essential to differentiate between hypothermia and hyperthermia, especially in emergency situations. Proper intervention is vital. For hypothermia, the individual needs to be warmed up, and for hyperthermia, the person needs cooling down. Preventative measures include dressing appropriately for the weather, staying hydrated, and avoiding excessive physical exertion in extreme temperatures.

Comparison Chart


Body temperature below the normal range.
Body temperature above the normal range.

Common Causes

Exposure to cold weather, immersion in cold water.
High ambient temperatures, physical exertion.


Shivering, slow breathing, confusion, fatigue.
Heavy sweating, rapid breathing, increased heart rate.


Warming the individual, dry clothing, warm drinks.
Cooling the individual, hydration, rest in a cool place.


Frostbite, organ failure, death.
Heat exhaustion, heat stroke, organ damage, death.

Compare with Definitions


The condition of having an exceptionally low internal body temperature.
Hikers are advised to wear layers to prevent hypothermia.


Elevated body temperature due to failed heat loss or increased heat production.
He experienced hyperthermia after wearing heavy clothing during a hike on a hot day.


A medical emergency where the body loses heat faster than it can produce.
While stranded in the snowstorm, he developed hypothermia.


A significant elevation of body temperature above the normal range.
Running a marathon in scorching heat can induce hyperthermia.


A condition resulting from prolonged exposure to cold.
The mountain rescuers are trained to treat cases of hypothermia.


A condition where the body produces or absorbs more heat than it can release.
Without proper hydration and breaks, construction workers are at risk of hyperthermia.


A decrease in body temperature below the level required for normal metabolism.
Hypothermia can impair cognitive functions and physical responses.


Excessive body heat due to failed thermoregulation.
During the heatwave, many elderly individuals suffered from hyperthermia.


Hypothermia is defined as a body core temperature below 35.0 °C (95.0 °F) in humans. Symptoms depend on the temperature.


Abnormally high body temperature usually resulting from external causes.
Cars parked in the sun can reach temperatures that cause hyperthermia in a short amount of time.


Abnormally low body temperature.


Hyperthermia, also known simply as overheating, is a condition in which an individual's body temperature is elevated beyond normal due to failed thermoregulation. The person's body produces or absorbs more heat than it dissipates.


(pathology) Abnormally low body temperature; specifically, below 35 degrees Celsius for humans.
Hypothermia is the systemic cold injury.


Unusually high body temperature.


Subnormal body temperature


(pathology) The condition of having an abnormally high body temperature caused by a failure of the heat-regulating mechanisms of the body to deal with the heat coming from the environment.


(medicine) The therapeutic application of heat to a patient, especially as treatment to cancer.


Abnormally high body temperature.


Abnormally high body temperature; sometimes induced (as in treating some forms of cancer)

Common Curiosities

Can both conditions be fatal?

Absolutely. Both can lead to severe complications if not treated promptly.

Are hypothermia and hyperthermia opposites?

Yes, hypothermia is abnormally low body temperature, and hyperthermia is abnormally high.

Is hypothermia only a winter concern?

While more common in cold weather, hypothermia can occur in cool water even in warmer months.

Can you get hyperthermia in an air-conditioned room?

It's rare, but possible if the body produces excessive heat and can't release it.

What's the first aid for hypothermia?

Warm the individual, provide dry clothing, and offer warm drinks.

Are children and the elderly more vulnerable to these conditions?

Yes, their bodies might not regulate temperature as effectively.

How about preventing hyperthermia?

Stay hydrated, avoid excessive exertion in heat, and take breaks in cool places.

Can medications increase the risk of hyperthermia?

Yes, some medications can affect body temperature regulation.

And for hyperthermia?

Move the individual to a cooler place, hydrate, and use methods like wet cloths to cool them down.

How can I prevent hypothermia?

Dress in layers, keep dry, and avoid prolonged exposure to cold.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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