VITAL SIGNS2

v Provide excellent clues to the physiological functioning of the body.

v Alteration in body fxn are reflected in the body temp, pulse, respirations and blood pressure.

v These data provide part of the baseline info from which plan of care is developed.

v Any change from normal is considered to be an indication of the person’s state of health.

v Also called Cardinal Signs.

Heat – producing & Heat – losing Mechanisms

v Heat production: most body heat is produced by the oxidation of foods, the rate at which it is produced is called METABOLIC RATE.

Heat Loss:

v Radiation

v Conduction

v Convection

v Evaporation

Pre – optic area of the HYPOTHALAMUS

v Temperature regulator; thermostat

v Receives input from temp receptors in the skin & mucous membranes (peripheral thermoreceptors) & internal structures (central thermoreceptors)

* if blood temp increases, neurons of the pre – optic area fire nerve if it decreases.

Heat Promoting Centers

v VASOCONSTRICTION

= Less blood flow from the internal organs to the skin = less heat transfer from the internal organs to the skin = increases internal body temp

v SYMPATHETIC STIMULATION

= stimulation of sympathetic nerves leading to the adrenal medulla = secretes epinephrine & norepinephrine = Increases cellular metabolism = increases heat production

v SKELETAL MUSCLES

= stimulation of part of the brain that increases muscle tone (stretch reflex + contraction of muscles = SHIVERING) = heat production

v THYROXINE = increases metabolism = increase in body temp

Body Temperature Abnormalities

v FEVER/hyperthermia/hyperpyrexia

An abnormally high temp mainly results from infection from bacteria (& their toxins) & viruses. (stimulates prostaglandin secretion)

Other causes: heart attacks, tumors, tissue destruction by x – ray, surgery or trauma & rxns to vaccines.

v HEAT CRAMPS AND HEAT EXHAUSTION

Due to fluid & electrolyte loss

v HEAT STROKE

v HYPOTHERMIA

The THERMOMETER

v A glass clinical thermometer is most commonly used to measure body temperature.

It has 2 parts:

BULB – contains mercury which expands when exposed to heat & rise in the stem

STEM – is calibrated in degrees of Celcius or Fahrenheit

Sites for Obtaining Body Temperature

v ORAL – most common site (3 or 7 to 10minutes)

C.I. : unconscious, irrational, seizure – prone patients and infants & young children, those who breath through their mouth or for those with diseases/sugery of their mouth or nose.

v RECTAL – most accurate, used when obtaining an oral temp is contraindicated (2 to 3 minutes)

C.I. : rectal surgery, diarrhea, other diseases of the rectum, certain heart diseases.

v AXILLARY – used when both oral & rectal are not accessible. Commonly used site (10minutes or more)

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