Mind, Physiology and Vital Signs

phys·i·ol·o·gy

  1. the branch of biology that deals with the normal functions of living organisms and their parts.
    • the way in which a living organism or bodily part functions.”the physiology of the brain”

The simplest way to see is someone’s bodily parts function normally is to check their vital signs.

It is important to check vital signs in health simply to check that parts are working normally.

Paula’s vital signs in health are completely normal. [her blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature.

Except for her ventilatory system. Her lungs are healthy but her respiratory rate is much too slow, because she needs time to exhale by squeezing the air out of her body with the help if her abdominal muscles and this takes time, a lot of time. This approach works but it requires a lot of effort. Effort that other people do not expend. Her ventilatory system is broken in some way or she would not be forced to breathe this way. She is unaware of this problem. Ventilation at rest is involuntary, it is unconscious and set by the autonomic nervous system. We do not know if the damage is central or peripheral. It is a non progressive injury and her body has had a long time to adjust and accommodate.

No one thinks about the autonomic nervous system that runs the body, the brain and the blood and fluids. This is why no one checks the pattern of vital signs when a person is healthy and developing normally and fighting disease well.

The ventilatory system moves air in and out of the body with the use of the skeletal muscles. This takes a lot of coordination between the brain, the blood and the nerves and the muscles. Being alive takes breathing air and eating food [glucose], which generates carbon dioxide and water and energy. The C02 that is in excess of bodily needs is exhaled. This is why measure meant of vital signs, and particular the measurement of the ventilatory system is so very important. Especially when a person suddenly begins to act strangely. Anything which affects ventilation will affect brain function. This is most likely why drugs and medications affect brain function, for good or for ill. Drugs change the patterns of the vital signs, and often they depressed or stimulate ventilation. The respiratory rate and tidal volume will determine the pH of the blood and oxygen in tissues and the partial pressure of carbon dioxide of the blood. The later, the PaC02, is carefully monitored by the brain. But the brain can do nothing if the ventilation system is damaged, somehow and cannot respond adequately to environmental exposure or upper airway obstruction or hormonal change or all three. It is important to now if the ventilatory system has been damaged during the course of one’s life. The ventilatory system requires intact nerves, muscles and attachments, which are vulnerable due to injury from difficult birth, or physical trauma of any kind, including being hit by a car or bus or being hit by a person.

A broken ventilatory system will affect the ease with which metabolism and pH is maintained and, if unable to work well enough, will affect the brain and the mind and the memory, chronically [ until the underlying problem is treated-such as infection, inflammation, undernutrition due to loss of appetite and other sickness reactions or muscle weakness and atrophy.

This is why it is so important to check out the vital signs, especially the respiratory rate. An abnormal respiratory rate is a major clue that something is broken and cannot react flexibly enough to restore homeostasis.

If measuring vital signs is important in routine health checks during health, then it is even more important is especially important if a person suddenly becomes seriously depressed, or incompetent or euphoric or combative. If the vital signs are abnormal, in particular, if the vital signs are abnormal in response to ineffective or flawed ventilation [depressed or excited or irregular], then you have the cause of the quiet or agitated mental confusion. And you must work it up accordingly.

Yet this is never done.

It is too straightforward, I guess. Too simple. Not fancy enough.

Respiratory failure can be hard to recognize. So can

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