What is normal body temperature? How to know if you have a fever – Insider – INSIDER

Posted: March 24, 2020 at 12:46 pm

Since 1851, normal human body temperature has been considered 98.6F (37C), established by Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich, 'the father of clinical thermometry'.

However, the German physician also observed variances in temperature depending on age and gender, and noted that normal body temperature is better described as a range.

Here's what you need to know about your body temperature, when it's considered a fever, and how to take it properly.

The human body isn't consistently one temperature, and depending on your age, the time of day, and even the activities you've been doing, it's more accurate to describe a normal body temperature range: between 97F (36.1C) and 99F (37.2C), according to Mayo Clinic.

"Temperature can vary between individuals, where some well members of a family are consistently warmer than others," says Charles Brantly, MD at Central Health. "This is not necessarily a bad thing. The normal range for the vast majority of people is between 36C and 37C."

A 2017 study of 35,488 people published in the British Medical Journal found the average body temperature to be 36.6C, slightly lower than what Wunderlich found in 1851. Moreover, a 2020 study from Stanford University School of Medicine, which assessed temperatures taken from three different databases over a 157-year period, found that the average body temperature has decreased over time a drop of 0.03C per birth decade.

The study authors indicate that the change in body temperature could be linked to improvements in human health and lifespan, as body temperature is an indication of metabolic rate. In this study, a slower metabolic rate was correlated with a longer life.

While core body temperature for men and women is roughly the same, in one study, women were found to generally have a lower skin temperature in some areas, because of their higher percentage of body fat. Brantly says that women can also have varying temperatures during their monthly menstrual cycle, and points out many other factors that can affect temperature on a day-to-day basis.

"On average children tend to be slightly warmer than adults, and those over 65 are cooler," says Brantly. "Exercise, hydration status, and clothing will all affect your day time temperature as well."

Chawapon Kidhirunkul, MD at BDMS Wellness Clinic, also says that time of day can impact your temperature. "Our temperature drops at night during sleep and increases over the day," Kidhirunkul says. "The lowest temperature is at around 4 a.m., and the highest peak at 5 p.m."

This rise in temperature is due to increased cortisol the stress hormone in the body as we go through the day. Kidhirunkul adds that another factor can be food, which usually increases temperature slightly after a meal.

High body temperature is one of the first symptoms of illness. According to Cleveland Clinic, 100.4F is considered a fever for adults, and children may feel feverish at slightly lower temperatures, depending on how you take the temperature.

A fever is an indication that your body is fighting off an infection, and is a common response to many kinds of viruses and illnesses. It's often associated with other symptoms like chills, headaches, tiredness, body aches, and sweating.

If you're feeling feverish, Brantly advises measuring your temperature and recording it several times a day, as thermometers aren't always accurate and your temperature may rise and fall throughout the day.

Fever is also a common symptom of the coronavirus. If you think you may have a fever associated with other symptoms of coronavirus, follow the CDC guidelines for taking care of yourself and preventing the spread of the virus.

There are several options when taking your temperature, such as armpit, forehead, mouth, ear, and rectal methods, according to Kidhirunkul.

The most common and easiest method of taking your temperature is in the mouth, however, Kidhirunkul says rectal temperatures are the most accurate. When it comes to a professional setting, Brantly notes that most hospitals and clinics rely on ear thermometers, though these are more expensive.

The UK's National Health Service recommends digital thermometers, which are inexpensive and easy to use. To take an oral temperature reading at home, follow these steps:

1. Put the thermometer under the tongue.

2. Close your lips around the thermometer to hold it in place.

3. The time the thermometer takes depends on the manufacturer's instructions: set a timer, or if it's digital, it may already have a timer function.

4. Once the time is up, remove the thermometer and then read it.

5. Make sure to clean the thermometer before putting it away.

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What is normal body temperature? How to know if you have a fever - Insider - INSIDER

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