In any health crisis, emergency or otherwise, as a first sign of an anomaly, the first thing that diseases tend to distort is the body’s vital signs which are important indicators of health. These are important in determining the nature and effect of the disease and may indicate respiratory collapse, blood infections or organic failures among other things. They also indicate progress of treatment and the status of the recovery process.
Vital signs or vitals are four most important medical signs that show status of life sustaining body function. The vitals may vary with age, gender and weight.
The primary vital signs include: body temperatures, blood pressure, pulse/heart rate and breathing rate and these four are a standard in medical health. We will discuss these vital individual and their significance as indicators of health.
A standard core body temperature is important in determining rate of important body chemical reactions and is maintained by balancing heat gain and loss from the body. The devise for measuring body temperature is a thermometer and can be used in the moth, rectum, armpit ear and it is important to note and account for discrepancies that may arise when measurements are made in different areas. 37degrees centigrade (98.7 degrees Fahrenheit) is considered normal although variations are expected among different individuals.
Changes can show systemic infection or inflammation in presence of a fever. Hypothermia and hyperthermia are also important considerations.
- Pulse rate/Heart rate
It’s the rate at which the heart pumps blood through the arteries and recorded as beats per minute. This is commonly taken at the wrist and alternative sites are at the elbow, neck or foot. It is taken with the index finger and the middle finger by pushing with firm yet gentle pressure at the locations stated, and counting the beats felt every 60 seconds. A stethoscope can be directly used and the rate may vary with age.
Newborn: 100-160 Bpm, Toddler: 80-140 Bpm, Child (1-3 years): 80-130 Bpm, Child (3-5 years):80-120 Bpm, Child (6-10 years): 70-110 Bpm, Adolescent (11-14 years): 60-105 Bpm, Adult (15 years plus): 60-100 Bpm.
- Respiratory rate
Respiratory rates vary greatly but normal ranges are 16-20 breaths per minute for ages 18-65 years. A marked fluctuation in the figures can show respiratory distress and acidotic states.
- Blood pressure
This is recorded as Systolic and Diastolic. The systolic pressure occurs at maximum contraction of the heart and the diastolic or resting pressure. Normal ranges in adults are 120/80 with 120 as systolic and 80 as diastolic reading. It is usually read on the left arm. And pulse pressure is the difference between Systolic and diastolic pressure.
Major fluctuations indicate hypertension and hypotension states.
The other important signs outside the vital signs are Pain, Menstrual cycle, Oxygen saturation, Blood glucose levels, End tidal carbon dioxide.