Hyperthermia or Hypothermia: Body Heat Out of Control! Help

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Aug 30, 2011

Introduction to Hyperthermia or Hypothermia

The high degree of Biological Order of body temperature shown within Figure 13.2 could formally be called a state of normothermia ( nor -moh- THER -me-uh). Literally, normothermia is “a condition of” (-ia) “normal” (normo-) body “heat” (therm). Because thermoregulation is proceeding so successfully, oral body temperature does go up and down over time, yet it still remains between a low of about 97.6 degrees F and a high of approximately 99.6 degrees F. Thus, there is a homeostasis of oral body temperature, such that it remains within its “normal” (normo-) range over time. The person remains clinically healthy with regards to body temperature.

Skins and Skeletons “Ain’t We Just Peachy?”: The Skin as Our Integument The Dermis As Our Tough Main “skin”

Fig. 13.2 Thermoregulation: Keeping our body heat within range.

Now consider, in marked contrast, the abnormal conditions illustrated within Figure 13.3. What happens when oral body temperature rises significantly above the upper normal limit of 99.6 degrees F? As displayed in Figure 13.3 (A), the resulting state of Biological Disorder is technically called hyperthermia ( high -per- THER -me-uh). This is “a condition of excessive or above normal” (hyper-) body heat or temperature. In hyperthermia, the patient is essentially suffering from a fever. It may be accompanied by such other familiar symptoms as chills and muscular aches and pains. If breaking of the normally S-shaped pattern of body temperature homeostasis is severe enough, then the temperature keeps rising past 108 degrees F, and the person may go into a coma and die!

Certainly, then, hyperthermia is to be avoided! “Okay, so let’s drive the oral body temperature way below its lower normal limit of about 97.6 degrees F!” you might helpfully suggest at this point. “In this way, we won’t have to worry so much about hyperthermia!”

Skins and Skeletons Hyperthermia or Hypothermia: Body Heat Out of Control!

Fig. 13.3 Hyperthermia (A) and hypothermia (B): Too much, or too little, of a good thing.

But, thinking carefully, are we still not breaking the S-shaped pattern of thermoregulation or homeostasis? Here, however, the breaking of pattern or introduction of Biological Disorder is at the low end, rather than the high end, of the body temperature range. When oral body temperature plunges significantly below 97.6 degrees F, then a state of hypothermia ( high -poh- THER -me-uh) is said to exist. Hypothermia is a “deficient or below normal” ( hypo -) “condition of” body “heat.” Since it represents temperature going down to an excessively low level, hypothermia (like hyperthermia), if great enough, can result in coma and death.


Practice problems for these concepts can be found at:  Skins And Skeletons Test

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