Temperature - control mechanism of human beings
The body temperature is precisely regulated by physiological and behavioral mechanisms. For body temperature to stay constant and with normal range, the relationship between heat production and heat loss must be maintained.
The relationship is regulated by neurological and cardiovascular mechanisms. The nurse applies knowledge of temperature control mechanisms to promote temperature regulation.
Neural and vascular control
The hypothalamus located between the cerebral hemispheres, controls the body temperature.
The hypothalamus senses main changes in body temperature.
The anterior hypothalamus controls the heat production.
A comfortable temperature is the ' set point' at which a heating system operates.
When the nerve cells in the anterior hypothalamus became heated beyond the set point, impulses are sent out to reduce body temperature.
Mechanisms of heat loss include sweating, vasodilatation (widing) of blood vessels and inhibition of heat production.
If the posterior hypothalamus senses the body temperature is lower than the set point, heat conservation mechanisms are instituted.
Vasoconstrction (narrowing of blood vessels) reduces blood flow to the skin and extremities.
Heat production is stimulated through voluntary muscle contraction and muscle shivering.
Trauma to the hypothalamus or to the spinal cord (which carries hypothalamic tract) can cause serious alternations in temperature control.