Nursing diagnosis – risk for imbalanced body temperature

Risk for Imbalanced body temperature
At risk for failure to maintain body temperature within normal
• Altered metabolic rate
• Dehydration
• Exposure to extreme hot/cold
• Advanced age
• Extremes of weight
• Illness/trauma affecting
temperature regulation
• Medications causing vasoconstriction
• Inactivity/vigorous activity
ASSESSMENT FOCUS (Refer to comprehensive assessment parameters.)
• Fluid and electrolytes
• Neurocognition
The patient will
• Maintain body temperature of 98.6 F–99.5 F (37 C–37.5 C).
• Maintain weight within 5% of baseline.
• Maintain balanced intake and output within normal limits for age.
• Have a urine-specific gravity between 1.010 and 1.015.
Hydration; Medication Response; Thermoregulation
Determine: Assess temperature every 4 hr. Use a temperature-taking
method appropriate for age and size (rectal or axillary for an infant
or toddler, axillary or oral for a preschooler, and oral for a schoolaged
child or adult). Prolonged elevation of temperature above 104 F
(40 C) may produce dehydration and harmful central nervous system
Weigh patient every morning and record results. A decrease in
weight may indicate dehydration.
Assess the patient’s knowledge and lifestyle before teaching about
hypothermia and hyperthermia to gear the teaching plan to the
patient’s needs.
Perform: Maintain adequate fluid intake by offering small amounts
of flavored fluids at frequent intervals; record intake and output
every shift. Fever increases fluid requirements by increasing the
metabolic rate. Provide high-calorie liquids, such as colas, fruit
juices, and flavored water sweetened with corn syrup, to help
prevent dehydration.
Administer antipyretics, as ordered, and monitor effectiveness.
Antipyretics act on the hypothalamus to regulate body temperature.
• Nutrition
• Respiratory function
Check and record urine-specific gravity with each voiding. Urinespecific
gravity increases with dehydration. Adequate urine output
and urine-specific gravity between 1.010 and 1.015 indicate
sufficient hydration.
Give a tepid sponge bath for increased temperature to increase
vaporization from skin and decrease body temperature.
Inform: Teach patient to dress in lightweight clothing when experiencing
elevated body temperature to allow perspiration to evaporate,
thereby releasing body heat.
Instruct the patient on the signs and symptoms of imbalanced
body temperature:
– Hypothermia: shallow respirations; slow, weak pulse; decreased
body temperature; low blood pressure; and pallor
– Hyperthermia: shivering, shaking chill; feeling hot; extreme
thirst; elevated body temperature; and high blood pressure.
Listing the signs and symptoms helps the patient learn and identify
warning signals of imbalanced body temperature. Large black
type is easier for the older patient to read.
Explain to the patient or family member why the patient needs
warm clothing in cool climates, even indoors. Suggest socks, nonslip
house shoes, and leg warmers to provide warmth to vulnerable
lower extremities, where vascular changes may cause decreased temperature
Instruct the patient or family member to label home thermostats
with large numbers and to use black or bright contrasting colors to
indicate appropriate temperature settings. Easy-to-read labels will
help the patient maintain room temperature.
Teach the patient or his or her family members about the dangers
of too much direct sunlight on warm days to prevent overheating in
an older patient with faulty thermoreceptors.
Attend: Encourage the patient to remain active when in a cool environment
to keep warm and maintain normal metabolism.
Manage: Suggest that a friend, family member, or volunteer from a
local community organization visit the patient daily to help ensure
the patient’s safety.
Fever Treatment; Medication Management; Temperature Regulation;
Vital Signs Monitoring
Braun, C. A. (2006, September–October). Accuracy of pacifier thermometers
in young children. Pediatric Nursing, 32(5), 413–418.