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Tympanic thermometers support fast and accurate temperature monitoring in acute and alternative care

11 March 2021
16 min read
Volume 30 · Issue 5

Abstract

This article explores body temperature and the physiological process of thermoregulation. Normal body temperature and body temperature changes are discussed, including comorbidities associated with body temperature and signs of hyperthermia and hypothermia, and the factors that affect intraoperative temperature regulation. The evidence base behind thermometry is discussed and is applied to contemporary clinical conditions and symptoms, including: sepsis and suspected COVID-19. After discussing clinical considerations and regulations that encompass thermometry, three case studies present the use of the Genius 3 Tympanic Thermometer in clinical practice, with user feedback supporting its benefits, which include speed, accuracy and ease of use.

Recording baseline observations and temperature measurement are among the vital components of core assessments in clinical practice. Human body temperature is well balanced to provide optimum conditions for tissue metabolism. Measurement of body temperature is important for two reasons. First, to give insight into the metabolic and homeostatic activity of the body and, second, to provide information about the possible cause of any abnormal state and contributing to accurate diagnosis (Blows, 2018). Each physiological condition has a particular set point: this is the physiological value around which the normal range fluctuates. The head thorax temperature is normally around 37°C. Yet peripheral temperature it is typically 2°C–4°C cooler than core temperature. This gradient is maintained by tonic thermoregulatory vasoconstriction (Bindu et al, 2017).

Thermoregulation is a process that allows the body to maintain its core internal temperature. Thermoregulation has three mechanisms: afferent sensing, central control and efferent responses. The body must have the ability to switch from increased heat production when it is cold to increased heat loss when it is hot (Blows, 2018). This process is finely tuned and sensitive to changes in both internal and external temperatures. Thermoreceptors are responsive to various thermatic cues in different parts of the body, and receptors to cold and heat are present in the skin. The aim, as with any homeostatic mechanisms, is to stabilise the normal state—referred to as normothermia—to sustain average body temperature and distribute heat evenly to all the tissues. This involves sensory feedback to the brain and an output effector to organs to stimulate changes in temperature (Figure 1).

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