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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/456

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438
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of the very old is higher than the middle-aged. The infant at birth has a temperature of 99° F. to 100° F., and it maintains a temperature of 99° F. and upward for several days. The variations of temperature from other causes are much greater in children than in adults, as also the normal daily variations of temperature. About the sixtieth year the average temperature of man begins to rise, and approximates that of the infant. In the young and old the "heat-regulating power" is more readily exhausted, and hence continued high temperature is far more fatal to these classes.

The first noticeable fact in regard to bodily temperature in disease is that there are daily fluctuations as in health, but much more extreme. In general, the remission of temperature in disease occurs in the morning, and the exacerbation in the afternoon and evening; the minimum is reached between six and nine o'clock in the morning, and the maximum between three and six o'clock in the evening. In many diseases the minimum temperature is not below 100° F., and usually it is one or two degrees above that point, while the maximum has no definite limit and may reach the dangerous height of 107° F. It should be noticed that the highest daily temperature in disease, as in health, occurs in the afternoon, when the temperature of the air in summer is the greatest.

The conditions affecting the temperature of the body other than those due to physiological conditions are very numerous. First and most obvious is the temperature of the surrounding atmosphere. It is a well-established fact that an average temperature of the air of 54° F. is best adapted to the public health, for at that temperature the decomposition of animal and vegetable matter is slight, and normal temperature is most easily maintained. Every degree of temperature above or below that point requires a more or less effort of the heat-regulating power to maintain the proper equilibrium. Even more potent in elevating the bodily temperature is the introduction into the blood, whether by respiration or by direct injection, of putrid fluids and the gases of decomposing matters. If this injection is repeated at short intervals, death will occur with a high temperature. The air of cities contains emanations, in hot weather, from a vast number of sources of animal and vegetable decomposition, and the inhalation of air so vitiated brings in contact with the blood these deleterious products in a highly divided state which cause a fatal elevation of temperature in the young, old, and enfeebled. The same effect is produced by the air in close and heated places, as in tenement houses, workshops, schoolhouses, hospital wards, and other rooms where many persons congregate for hours. Air thus charged with poisonous gases becomes more dangerous if