Body temperature abnormalities, which occur because of several infectious and non-infectious etiologies, are among the most commonly noted symptoms of critically ill patients. These abnormalities frequently trigger changes in patient management. The purpose of this article was to review the contemporary literature investigating the definition and occurrence of body temperature abnormalities in addition to their impact on illness severity and mortality in critically ill non-neurological patients, particularly in patients with severe sepsis. Reports on the influence of fever on outcomes are inconclusive, and the presence of fever per se may not contribute to increased mortality in critically ill patients. In patients with severe sepsis, the impacts of elevated body temperature and hypothermia on mortality and the severity of physiologic decline are different. Hypothermia is significantly associated with an increased risk of mortality. In contrast, elevated body temperature may not be associated with increased disease severity or risk of mortality. In patients with severe sepsis, the effect of fever and fever control on outcomes requires further research.
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