The different measurements that are responsible for evaluating the basic functions of the body are known as vital signs . They are very useful when it comes to detecting certain health problems.
Importantly, vital signs can be measured both in a medical facility and at home, or even anytime, anywhere during a medical emergency.
What are the vital signs of a person?
There are three main vital signs: body temperature, pulse, and respiratory rate . Also blood pressure, which although it is not a vital sign as such, it is usually measured together with the previous three.
Body temperature is one of the vital signs most frequently assessed in both adults and children. Answering the question of what is the normal temperature of the human body, the truth is that there is no exact answer since it depends on a large selection of factors: type of diet, gender, age, time of day … consider a normal body temperature to be one that ranges between 36.5ºC and 37.2ºC.
How is body temperature measured?
There are different methods of measuring body temperature. The best time of the day to do it is between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., in a sitting position and always before practicing physical exercise.
- In the mouth: it is commonly used in children; the thermometer is inserted into the mouth to calculate what the body temperature is.
- In the rectum: Although not very common, body temperature can also be measured rectally with a glass or digital thermometer.
- In the armpit: it is the most frequent method of measurement, especially in adults.
- In the ear: currently you can find special thermometers capable of measuring the temperature at which the eardrum is in a matter of seconds and, with it, indicating body temperature.
- On the skin: one of the most comfortable measurement routes for babies and young children. Simply place the thermometer on the skin of the forehead.
High body temperature
Body temperature is considered elevated when it exceeds 38ºC; It is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, muscle pain, poor appetite, and dizziness.
In relation to the causes that can raise body temperature above normal values, one of the most common is infection . In this case it is a reaction of the immune system, which tries to fight a foreign substance that is attacking the body.
Also the consumption of certain medications causes fever , such as antibiotics, narcotics or antihistamines. And, finally, highlight injuries and diseases of various considerations: heat stroke, stroke, arthritis , hyperthyroidism …
Low body temperature
Experts agree that body temperature is low when it is below 35ºC; It is what is known as hyperthermia. It is a very dangerous condition, which can even be life threatening in certain population groups.
In general, hyperthermia is accompanied by certain symptoms such as tremors, paleness, shortness of breath, weak pulse, and even lack of coordination of the muscular and joint systems.
One of the most obvious causes is exposure to extreme cold weather for a long period of time without adequate protection. Also the use of drugs and alcohol can lead to a lower body temperature than normal.
The diabetes is a disorder characterized by incapazidad of the body to regulate the amount of sugar present in the blood, which results in hyperthermia.
And finally, various diseases that affect blood circulation can also cause the body temperature to drop below 35ºC.
The pulse is how it is known to measure the heart rate , or what is the same, the number of times the heart beats per minute. The way it works is as follows: when the heart pushes blood through the arteries, they expand and contract. In this way, when the pulse is measured, in addition to the heart rate, the heart rate and the strength of the pulse are also evaluated.
Generally speaking, the normal pulse of an adult is considered to be between 60 and 100 beats per minute . However, there is a large selection of factors that can increase or decrease heart rate: physical exercise, negative or positive emotions, gender …
Thus, during sleep the pulse can drop to 40 beats, while with physical exercise it can increase to 200 beats.
Take the pulse at the wrist
- To take a pulse at the wrist, the index and middle fingers are first placed on the inside of the wrist, just below the thumb.
- Using a stopwatch, the pulsations are counted over a period of 60 seconds.
- It is convenient to write down the number of keystrokes along with the date and time. In this way the pulse can be tracked.
Take the pulse in the neck
- The heartbeat can also be measured at the neck. To do this, the index and middle fingers are placed on one side of the neck, in the area where the neck and jaw meet.
- The pulsations are then counted for 60 seconds.
- And finally, in the same way as taking the measurement at the wrist, the results are recorded.
The respiratory rate, as its name suggests, is the number of breaths that a person takes during one minute . The measurement is usually carried out when the person is at rest; consists of counting the number of repsirations performed in a minute, taking into account the times the chest rises.
In general, the respiratory rate of an adult at rest ranges between 12 and 16 breaths.
Tachypnea and hyperventilation
Tachypnea is the medical term to refer to a situation in which the patient has too rapid breathing . As for hyperventilation, it is how deep and rapid breathing is known by a certain patient; it is usually due to a certain disease of the respiratory system, as well as anxiety.
When breathing is fast and shallow, the causes can be very broad and diverse.
- Asthma : one of the best known diseases of the respiratory system, characterized by complicated breathing accompanied by other symptoms: acute cough, a feeling of suffocation in the chest and wheezing noises.
- Heart failure: heart failure is a disorder that occurs when the heart is not able to pump the blood that the body needs.
- Pneumonia: Pneumonia is a respiratory disease characterized by inflammation of the lungs. It develops from infection with a virus or bacteria. In relation to its symptoms, the most frequent ones are high fever, severe pain in the side and cough.
- Anxiety: an anxiety attack is another possible cause of rapid and shallow breathing, which can be given for different reasons and is characterized by an intense fear that appears suddenly.
And finally, blood pressure; It is defined as such as the force exerted by the blood against the walls of the arteries . When the heart beats, it pumps a certain amount of blood into the arteries, so that a higher blood pressure occurs during the contraction of the heart muscle.
When measuring blood pressure, a total of two numbers are recorded. On the one hand, the systolic pressure , the highest number; it is the pressure exerted inside the artery during the contraction of the blood, when it pumps blood throughout the body. And, on the other hand, the diastolic pressure , the lowest number; It is called as such the pressure within the artery when the heart is at rest. Both values are measured in mm of Hg, millimeters of mercury.
A normal blood pressure in an adult person is around 120/80 mmHg.
How to measure blood pressure?
So that the blood pressure figures do not show altered results, there are a series of measures to take: the measurement is done before meals, avoid tobacco and alcohol, it is advisable to urinate before measuring the pressure and it is not necessary to perform physical exercise in advance.
- To measure blood pressure at home, you must first sit with your back well supported on the backrest and your legs parallel.
- The arm is allowed to rest on a table, so that it is at the level of the heart, without moving it.
- The tensiometer is placed, placing the cuff between two and three centimeters above the elbow.
- The palm of the hand is left up, with the elbow slightly bent.
Hypertension is how the disorder characterized by high blood pressure is known; the blood exerts such pressure against the arterial walls that in the medium and long term it can lead to various cardiac disorders.
A high percentage of patients with high blood pressure do not present any type of symptoms. Some have headaches , shortness of breath, or nosebleeds; however, these signs are often associated with other pathologies.
Interestingly, for the vast majority of adults there is no specific cause for high blood pressure . However, there are some risk factors: people over 65, family history, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, tobacco, alcohol …
Hypotension is a medical disorder characterized by low blood pressure. It occurs when the rhythm of the heartbeat is slower than usual. It is a serious disorder since it implies that the organs do not receive the amount of blood they need to function.
As for its causes, one of the most common is acute bleeding, both internal and external. Similarly, the use of drugs, alcohol or certain medications can also cause hypotension.
And, in relation to the symptoms, the most common are: blurred vision, vertigo , dizziness, drowsiness, weakness …
One of the simplest methods to avoid hypotension as much as possible is correct hydration . It is also advisable to avoid standing in the same position for long periods of time, as well as standing up abruptly when sitting or lying down.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.