Changes in body temperature as death approaches

As death nears, the part of the brain responsible for regulating body temperature fails. You may run a high temperature one moment or feel very cold. Your arms and legs may be very cold to the touch and even appear pale and blotchy. This change in skin color is called mottling and is very common in the hours or days before death.

Your caregivers can help control your fever by applying wet, lukewarm cloths to the skin (sponge bath) or by giving nonprescription medications like:

  • Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol).
  • Ibuprofen (such as Advil).
  • Naproxen (such as Aleve).
  • Aspirin.

Many of these medications are available as a rectal suppository if you are unable to swallow.

Last Updated: July 14, 2008

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