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Keeping an Eye on Normal Values for Vital Signs

Part of the Diagnosing Your Health Symptoms For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

Assessing breathing rate, checking a pulse and measuring temperature can help you to decide whether you or someone else may be more seriously ill than you think. To help you decide whether an observation is abnormal, check the normal ranges in this table. These are different for adults, children and babies.

Normal Values in Adults and Children
Observation Adult Child Baby
Breathing rate (breaths per minute) 12–20 20–40 30–60
Resting heart rate (beats per minute) 60–90 90–110 110–140
Temperature* (in degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit) 36.5–37.2/97.7–99.9 36.5–37.2/97.7–99.9 36.5–37.2/97.7–99.9

* Note that armpit temperature is 0.2–0.3 degrees Celsius (32.4–32.5 degrees Fahrenheit) lower than those taken from the mouth (shown in the table). A body temperature above 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) indicates fever.

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