In clinical practice, measuring body temperature is of immense diagnostic value to a physician. While in most cases, just the presence or absence of fever is really significant, there are numerous examples where precise and consistent monitoring of body temperature is essential to making a diagnosis eg. diseases like malaria and kala-azar are noted for their unique and characteristic fever curves. While malaria has an intermittent, paroxysmal fever pattern, Kala Azar displays a double quotidian pattern, where sharp increases, along with rigours, are seen twice a day.
Continuous temperature measurement has the potential to offer us unprecedented insights into fevers and could prove to be very useful in establishing the cause and nature of a fever. Recording trends in body temperature over time, allows us to reliably understand the intensity and progression of a fever, note nocturnal/diurnal variations and also, evaluate treatment effectiveness. More than just identifying fever, this data could allow a physician to precisely understand the onset and prognosis of the fever. This could be of tremendous help in formulating the most optimal treatment strategy for a particular situation.
Continuous fever monitoring plays a huge role in diagnosing and managing elderly patients. A physician must always be on the lookout for signs of sepsis, in elderly patients with an infectious disease or neurological condition. For instance, Studies show that the core temperature, in the first 24 hours of infection is a reliable predictor of sepsis and mortality, in elderly patients.
Fevers are a very ominous sign during pregnancies. Although something as trivial and harmless as a common cold or the flu could cause a fever, it could also be a sign of extremely serious infections like puerperal sepsis or chorioamnionitis, which are dangerous for both the mother and the foetus. Accurate and sustained temperature readings during pregnancy can help ensure that expert care is sought when needed. They can alert us to unfavourable developments and pre-empt any risk to mother or child.
4. Critical illnesses:
Temperature monitoring is an essential part of in-patient care, for any serious illness. Especially in the aftermath of neurological diseases such as Traumatic Brain Injury or a Stroke, a fever usually foretells disastrous outcomes and so, continuous measurement helps provide better and more responsive care. E.g Epilepsy and febrile seizures are basically differentiated only by the presence or absence of a fever. Therefore, the initial treatment course is determined solely through temperature data.
Extremely precise measurement of core temperature is employed over the course of surgeries, to monitor the effects of the anesthesia. Operating room emergencies, almost invariably, involve rapid fluctuations (both increase and decrease) in temperature. Any volatility in the temperature is treated as an emergency and precautions are usually on kept on hand to deal with them, if they arise.
Our technology capabilities today, are driving significant changes in how healthcare is approached. Astronomically vast amounts of data can now be processed with ridiculous ease and reliability. The future of healthcare, without a doubt, lies in harnessing our information processing might towards ensuring better treatment strategies and outcomes.
Continuous temperature monitoring promises to give us a window into valuable information on the inner workings of the body. Along with other cutting edge technologies, it augurs a future where it would be possible to deliver healthcare that is more precise and patient-centric.