Vital signs

How Functional are we?

 Alive, needs vitals.

We humans need all life sustaining functions to be alive.

If one of those vital functions is deteriorating, it means that our health is endangered and we need to get the necessary medical care to diagnose it, fix it and regain it.

Why must we monitor our vital signs?

  • It is an objective measurement of physiological function.
  • It is an important indicator of patient’s status prior to or during patient care.
  • It is a way to find out about the patient’s physiological responses to treatment.


The four main vital signs routinely monitored by medical professionals and health care providers include the following:

  • Body temperature.
  • Pulse rate: Number of times your heart beats per minute.
  • Respiration rate (rate of breathing): Number of breath you take per minute.
  • Blood pressure: The pressure of the blood in the circulatory system closely related to the force and rate of the heartbeat and the diameter and elasticity of the arterial walls.

Additional signs like pain and shortness of breath are two important indicators of health problems or complications.


What is a normal Pulse rate, body temperature, respiratory rate, blood pressure?

  •  Normal Pulse: A normal resting heart rate for adult’s ranges from 60 to 100 beats a minute.
  •  Normal body temperature : It is around 37C (98.6F), although it depends on:
    • The person
    • Their age
    • What they’ve been doing
    • The time of day
    • Which part of the body you take the temperature form.

It is generally accepted that normal body temperature ranges between 36.1C (97F) to 37.2C (99F).

  • Normal respiratory rate: The normal respiration rate for an adult at rest is 12 to 20 breaths per minute.
  • Normal Blood pressure: The normal blood pressure below 120 over 80 (120/80).


How do you know your health standards?

It is very important to know your health condition and to check your vitals.

You can do it at home not necessarily in a medical or health field.

All what you need are:

  • Body Temperature: Thermometer: Instrument for measuring and indicating temperature. You can measure it on different body locations mouth, ear, armpit, rectum and forehead.

The most accurate way to measure body temperature is to take a rectal temperature.

  • Blood Pressure: Stethoscope.
  • Pulse rate and respiration rate, oxygen saturation in the blood: Pulse Oximeter: technology calculating the results to display a number on the Oximeter’s screen that tells you the percent of oxygen in your blood and your pulse rate.

What if your vitals are not normal?


Our temperature is our body’s ability to generate or get rid of heat.

Our body veins expand or narrow depending if we are hot or cold to get rid or conserve the normal body temperature.


When we have a fever meaning we have a body temperature higher than 100°F (37.8°C) or a rectal or ear temperature above 101°F (38.3°C).

A child has a fever when his or her rectal temperature is 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.

Symptoms of fever:

  • Sweating
  • Shivering
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • General weakness

High fevers between 103 F (39.4 C) and 106 F (41.1 C) may cause:

  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Convulsions
  • Dehydration


Causes of fever:

  • Most common cause is Infection.
  • Medicines : such as antibiotics, narcotics, barbiturates, antihistamines, and many others, they might interfere with the body’s ability to readjust its temperature when other factors cause the temperature to rise.
  • Severe trauma or injury, such as a heart attack, stroke, heat exhaustion or heatstroke, or burns.
  • Other medical conditions, such as arthritis, hyperthyroidism, and even some cancers, such as leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and liver and lung cancer.


Low body temperature :

It is too a sign of sickness: Our body temperature is not considered dangerously low until it is below 95 F (35 C).

Causes of Low Body Temperature:

Body temperature can fall due to numerous reasons such as being exposed to cold weather or wearing soaked or wet clothing for a long time.

On the other hand, abnormally low body temperature can also be a potential symptom of the following diseases and disorders:

  • Addison’s Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Infection
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Sepsis
  • Side effects of medications
  • Shock
  • Fast Breathing/Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Stress
  • Insomnia

Symptoms of low body temperature:

Shivering is one of the most obvious and easily recognizable symptoms. Shivering is accompanied with chattering of teeth and goose bumps. Apart from this the following symptoms are observed:

  • Slow heartbeat
  • Shallow breathing
  • Purple fingers and toes
  • Lack of coordination
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Slurred speech
  • Dilated pupils
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Weak pulse
  • Tiredness


A normal heart rate is a sign of a fit body any irregularity in the heart rates, our pulse is an indication of a health problem.

Pulse is the number of heart beats in a minute, the normal range is 50 to 100 beats per minute, when you are calm resting with no physical activity.

It varies according to :

  • Air temperature: When temperatures (and the humidity) soar, the heart pumps a little more blood, so your pulse rate may increase, but usually no more than five to 10 beats a minute.
  • Body position: Resting, sitting or standing, your pulse is usually the same. Sometimes as you stand for the first 15 to 20 seconds, your pulse may go up a little bit, but after a couple of minutes it should settle down. Emotions: If you’re stressed, anxious or “extraordinarily happy or sad” your emotions can raise your pulse.
  • Body size: Body size usually doesn’t usually change pulse. If you’re very obese, you might see a higher resting pulse than normal, but usually not more than 100.
  • Medication use:Meds that block your adrenaline (beta blockers) tend to slow your pulse, while too much thyroid medication or too high of a dosage will raise it.


Body locations of your pulse are the:

  • wrists
  • inside of your elbow
  • side of your neck
  • top of the foot.

Abnormal pulse :

Tachycardia: A fast heart rhythm with a rate of more than 100 beats per minute.

Bradycardia: A slow heart rhythm with a rate below 60 beats per minute.

Supraventricular arrhythmias: Arrhythmias that begin in the atria (the heart’s upper chambers).

And many other cause of abnormal heart rhythm:


Symptoms :

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting (syncope) or near-fainting spells
  • Rapid heartbeat or pounding
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • In extreme cases, collapse and sudden cardiac arrest


Causes :



It is the number of movements indicative of inspiration and expiration per unit time.

The aim of measuring respiratory rate is to determine that the respirations are normal.

The normal respiration rate for a healthy adult at rest is 12–20 breaths per minute.

Average resting respiratory rates by age are: birth to 6 weeks: 30–60 breaths per minute.

6 months: 25 – 40 breaths per minute.


Abnormal respiratory rate :

Fast (tachypnea)

Abnormally slow (bradypnea)

Nonexistent (apnea)

Patterns of normal and abnormal respiratory rates:


Many symptoms of abnormal respiratory rate but it is mainly shortness of breath.


Causes :

And many other causes for those abnormal respiratory rates :



Understanding blood pressure:


The blood pressure in the circulatory system, related to the force and rate of the heartbeat and the diameter and elasticity of the arterial walls.  The pressure exerted by the blood against the walls of the blood vessels, especially the arteries.

It varies with thestrength of the heartbeat, the elasticity of the arterial walls, the volume and viscosity of the blood, and a person’shealth, age, and physical condition.


Body location to take the blood pressure :

We measure our blood pressure with a Stethoscope on our wrist .


Normal blood pressure :

Healthy People have a blood pressure below 120 over 80 (120/80)


Blood Pressure Chart


If you have low blood pressure Hypotension:

90/60 mm Hg or below (systolic 90 or below OR diastolic 60 or below)

Symptoms :

  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Dizziness
  • A feeling of lightheadedness
  • Chest pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased thirst
  • Nausea



  • Pregnancy
  • Heart problems
  • Endocrine problems
  • Dehydration
  • Blood loss
  • Severe infection (septicemia)
  • Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
  • Lack of nutrients in your diet
  • Medications


If you have high blood pressure Hypertension:

140/90 mm Hg or above (systolic 140 or above OR diastolic 90 or above)



  • Blood spots in the eyes
    Facial flushing
    Severe headaches
  • Severe anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nosebleeds



  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Too much salt in the diet
  • Drinking too much alcohol (more than 1 to 2 drinks per day)
  • Older age
  • Family history of high blood pressure (heredity)
  • Having chronic kidney disease


Your body is the greatest instrument you will ever own, if you feel any discomfort or if any of your vitals is not normal, don’t wait to check with your doctor, every minute counts.


You can call your family doctor or just come to our emergency department to provide you with the care you need and help you get better.

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