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What is thermometry?

Thermometry The branch of heat relating to the measurement of the temperature of a body is called thermometry. The thermometer is an instrument used to measure the temperature of a body. The essential requisites of a thermometer are given as under:  1) Construction, 2) Calibration, and 3) Sensitiveness. For the construction of a thermometer, the proper choice of a substance, whose physical property varies uniformly with rising in temperature, is essential. 1) Construction The physical property of a substance plays an important role in the construction of a thermometer. In a mercury thermometer, the principle of expansion of mercury with rising temperature is used. The platinum resistance thermometer is based on the principle of the change in resistance with a change in temperature. The gas thermometer is based on the principle of change in volume or pressure with a change in temperature. 2) Calibration  When a thermometer is constructed, it should be properly calibrated. The standa

Hydrotherapy - Physiological Effects of Water

Hydrotherapy - Physiological Effects of Water

Learning Objectives

On completion of this lesson, you will be able to learn -
  • Water and hydrotherapy
  • Electrolytes and body fluids
  • Therapeutic bath.

What is Hydrotherapy?

Water like air is a basic necessity without which life cannot be maintained. Water is the principal constituent of the human body. It is indispensable to the metabolic processes in the cells. Water is a universal solvent. Almost all water is derived from rain, hail, snow, and dew, etc. All human beings need safe and pure water for drinking purposes. Safe water is one which when taken does not harm the consumer. Hydrotherapy is one kind of physiotherapy. Treatment by using water for metallic processes in the cell swimming is called hydrotherapy.

Electrolytes and Body Fluids

The diagnosis and treatment of electrolyte disorders is a skill learned by experience and practice. Like all clinical skills, it is dependent on a proper understanding of basic science. We are still very dependent on ready access to water for our survival and man cannot survive for more than a couple of days without a source of freshwater. Dehydration is still a major cause of loss of human life. Millions of lives are lost each year in developing countries from disorders of fluid and electrolyte therapy.

A proper understanding of the control of fluid and electrolyte balance is essential. This can only be achieved by considering the extra-cellular fluids as a watery environment whose composition is critical to the function of every organ, tissue, and cell in the body.

Body Water and Fluid Compositions

Water is the main constituent of the body and total body water varies with age and sex and it ranges from 45- 60% of body weight or 40-60 liters of water. Normal males have around 60% of body weight as water and females 52% of body weight. The lower percentage of water in the female is due to the higher fat content of the body. Body water can be divided into two compartments intracellular fluid (IFC) as the major component comprising two-third of body water and extracellular fluid (ECF) making up the remaining one-third of body water. Plasma influences the composition of the extracellular fluid around all the cells of the body. Plasma is circulated around the body via the cardiovascular system and changes in the composition of plasma affect all cells.

Total body water is divided into an extra-cellular fluid (ECF) and intracellular fluid (ICF) compartments. The ECF can be further divided into an infra-vascular compartment (Plasma) and interstitial fluid (IntF) Na+ is the major action of ECF and K+ the major action of ICF.

Therapeutic Baths

Water has been used as a valuable therapeutic agent since time immemorial. In all major ancient civilizations, bathing was considered an important measure for the maintenance of health and prevention of disease. Water exerts beneficial effects on the human system. It equalizes circulation, boosts muscular tone, and aids digestion and nutrition. It also tones up the activity of the preparatory gland and in the process eliminates the damaged cells and toxic matter from the system. The common water temperature chart is cold 10°C to 18°C, neutral 32°C to 36°C, and hot 40°C to 45°C. Above 45°C, water loses its therapeutic value and is destructive.

The main methods of water treatment, which can be employed in the healing of various diseases, are described below.

Cold Compress

This is a local application using a cloth, which has been wrung out in cold water. The cloth should be folded into a broad strip and dipped in cold water or ice water. The compress is generally applied to the head, neck, chest, abdomen, and back. The cold compress is an effective means of controlling inflammatory conditions of the liver, spleen, stomach, kidneys, intestines, lungs, brain, pelvic organ, and so on. It is also advantageous in cases of fever and heart disease.

Heating Compress

This is a cold compress covered in such a manner as to bring warmth. A heating compress consists of three or four folds of linen cloth wrung out on cold water. Then it is covered completely with dry flannel or blanket to prevent the circulation of air and help accumulation of body heat. It is sometimes applied for several hours. A heating compress can be applied to the throat, hoarseness, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, and laryngitis. An abdominal compress helps those suffering from gastritis hyperacidity, indigestion, and jaundice diarrhea, dysentery. The chest compress is helpful for inflamed joints, rheumatism, rheumatic fever, and sprains.

Hip Baths

The hip bath is one of the most useful forms of hydrotherapy. This mode of treatment involves only the hips bath and the abdominal region below the navel. A special type of tub is used for this purpose. The tub is filled with water in such a way that it covers the hips and reaches up to the navel when the patient sits in it. Hip bath is given in cold, hot, and neutral alternative temperatures. Let us discuss them below.

i. Cold Hip Bath

The water temperature should be 10°C to 18°C. The duration of the bath is usually 10 minutes. A cold hip bath is a routine treatment for most diseases. It relieves constipation, indigestion, and obesity and helps the eliminative organs to function properly. It is also helpful in uterine problems like irregular menstruation, chronic uterine infections, pelvic inflammation, piles, hepatic congestion, chronic congestion of the prostate gland, uterine and ovarian displacements, diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhage of the bladder, and so on.

ii. Hot Hip Bath

The bath is generally taken for 8 to 10 minutes at a water temperature of 40°C to 45°C. The bath should start at 40°C and gradually increased to 45°C. A hot hip bath helps to relieve painful menstruation, pain in the pelvic organs, painful urination, and painful piles.

iii. Neutral Hip Bath

The temperature of the water should be 32°C to 36°C. This bath is generally taken for 20 minutes to an hour. The neutral hip bath helps to relieve all acute and sub-acute inflammatory conditions. It also relieves neuralgia of the fallopian tubes, painful spasms of the vagina.

iv. Alternate Hip Bath

The temperature in the hot tub should be 40°C to 45°C and in the cold tub 10°C to 18°C. The patient should be alternately sit in the hot tub for 5 minutes and then in the cold tub for 3 minutes. The duration of the bath is generally 10 to 20 minutes. The bath relieves chronic inflammatory conditions of the pelvic viscera such as salpingitis, ovaritis, cellulitis.

v. Hot Foot Bath

In this bath, the patient should keep his /her legs in a tub or a bucket filled with hot water at a temperature of 40°C to 45°C. Before taking this bath, a glass of water should be taken and the body should be covered with a blanket so that no heat escapes from the footbath. The head should be protected with a cold compress. The duration of the bath is generally from 5 to 10 minutes. The hot footbath stimulates the involuntary muscles of the uterus, intestines, bladder, and other pelvic and abdominal organs. It also relieves sprains and ankle joint pains, headaches. In women, it helps restore menstruation if suspended.


Certain precautions are necessary while taking these therapeutic baths. Full baths should be avoided within 3 hours after a meal and one hour before it. Local baths like the hip baths and footbaths may, however, be taken two hours after a meal. Clean and pure water must be used for baths and water once used should not be used again. While taking baths, temperature and duration should be strictly observed to obtain the desired effects. Women should not take any of the baths during menstruation. They can take only hip baths during pregnancy till the completion of the third month.


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