UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Geriatrics

Title: temperature in the elderly

Keywords: hyperthermia, heat stroke (PubMed Search)

Posted: 8/23/2009 by Amal Mattu, MD (Updated: 12/5/2021)
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Be wary of the limitations of correlating a temperature with infection in the elderly:
1. The elderly are 3-4x more likely to develop hypothermia in response to serious infections. Never rule out a serious infection simply based on a low or normal body temperature.
2. The elderly take longer to mount a fever than younger patients.
3. The elderly have a slightly lower body temperature at baseline, possibly 1 degree lower. As a result, "fever" in the elderly is sometimes defined as 99.5 degrees rather than the traditional 100 or 100.4 used in younger patients.