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Vital sign temperature



Infants and the Elderly


Infants, particularly newborns, and the elderly are prone to hypothermia. In the case of infants the reason is because of the developing hypothalamic thermoregulatory mechanism.

With the elderly the regulatory mechanism is weakened from aging. Old age causes a diminished ability to perceive and adjust to hot and cold (diminished hypothalamic control of the sympathetic system). The elderly are at high risk for developing life threatening sequelae of both conditions. This is particularly evident in response to cold. Shivering creates an increase in oxygen consumption and cardiac output, placing the elderly at risk of myocardial infarction, angina and heart and respiratory failure. Dehydration, common in the elderly, raises the temperature, and increases the potential for cardiovascular collapse.

Sepsis in the elderly may present with a high temperature, a normal temperature or a low temperature. Hypothermia, hyperventilation and hypotension are common manifestations of sepsis in the elderly.


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