A TOTAL of 51 Fifers were admitted to hospital with hypothermia during December's cold snap, figures have been revealed.

Scottish Ambulance Service data has revealed that from December 1 to 18, almost 800 people – 44 a day – were taken to hospital across the country with hypothermia, defined as a temperature of less than 35C.

The condition can be a medical emergency and elderly people are most at risk.

Responding to the figures, Citizens Advice Scotland said it had been warning for some time that "health would inevitably suffer" if people were forced to cut back on heating in severe weather.

Hypothermia can be caused by prolonged exposure to very cold temperatures when the body begins to lose heat faster than it's produced.

Lengthy exposures will eventually use up your body's stored energy, which leads to lower body temperature.

A recent survey by Age UK Scotland found 62 per cent of older people had cut back on heating to make ends meet.

Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, pale, cold and dry skin, slurred speech, slow breathing tiredness or confusion

Advice while waiting for emergency assistance includes wrapping the person in a blanket, sleeping bag or dry towel, making sure their head is covered and keeping the person awake by talking to them until help arrives.

You should not use a hot bath, hot water bottle or heat lamp to warm them up, rub their arms, legs, feet or hands or give them an alcoholic drink.

Hospital treatment may involve the patients being given warm fluids straight into a vein but intensive care may be needed for severe hypothermia.

There were an estimated 8,500 deaths due to cold homes in the winter of 2019-20, according to analysis by the charity National Energy Action.