Body temperature is a crucial factor in assessing one’s health, with doctors typically examining it as one of four vital signs. It can fluctuate depending on a variety of factors, including age, sex, and even dishonesty. Infections are commonly associated with fever, but there are many other reasons for an increase in body heat. Understanding normal body temperature and how it can be influenced is important for monitoring overall well-being. 11 Intriguing Pieces of Information Regarding Body Temperature.
1 Understanding Average Body Temperature: What is Considered Normal?
Typically, a healthy body temperature is regarded as 98.6 degrees F, though this number can vary from person to person. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, what is considered “normal” can fluctuate between 97 degrees F to 99 degrees F. As such, what may be considered normal for one individual may not be the same for another. It is important to recognize and understand your own average body temperature to better gauge changes in temperature and overall health.
The body is constantly adjusting its temperature based on the surrounding environment. Physical activity, such as exercise, can cause an increase in body heat. The Mayo Clinic reports that body temperature is typically higher in the evening than it is in the morning upon waking. These natural fluctuations are important to consider when measuring and interpreting body temperature.
Infants and young children typically have a higher body temperature than older individuals. This is due to their greater surface area-to-weight ratio, as well as their heightened metabolic rate. On average, newborns have a body temperature of approximately 99.5 degrees F. It is important to consider these differences in body temperature when monitoring the health of young children.
2 Understanding Fever: What it is and What Causes it.
As stated by the Mayo Clinic, a fever is a temporary elevation in body temperature that is frequently linked to illness. Generally, a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, as measured by a rectal, ear, or temporal artery (forehead) thermometer, indicates a fever. These episodes of heightened temperature often resolve within a few days. Additionally, fevers may be accompanied by a variety of symptoms, including:
• Shuddering and feeling cold may be experienced in conjunction with a fever.
• Perspiration is a common occurrence during a fever.
• Aching or discomfort in the head is a frequent symptom during a fever.
• Pain or tenderness in the muscles is a common complaint during episodes of elevated body temperature.
• A reduced desire to eat or a decrease in hunger may be a symptom of a fever.
• Feeling easily annoyed or having a short fuse may accompany a fever.
• A decrease in fluid levels within the body can result from a fever, making it important to consume enough liquids to avoid dehydration.
• A sense of overall fatigue or weakness may be experienced in conjunction with a fever.
The Mayo Clinic advises that adults should contact a healthcare professional if their body temperature exceeds 103 degrees F, as it may be cause for concern. Seeking medical attention is also recommended if a fever is accompanied by symptoms such as a severe headache, an atypical skin rash, sensitivity to bright light, neck stiffness and pain upon head movement, confusion, persistent vomiting, difficulty breathing or chest pain, abdominal discomfort or painful urination, or convulsions or seizures. It is essential to promptly seek medical attention if experiencing any of these symptoms in conjunction with a fever.
The Mayo Clinic advises that for infants and toddlers, even a slightly elevated body temperature could indicate a severe infection. It is important to contact a doctor if your child is under three months old and has a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees F or higher. For infants aged three to six months, call your doctor if your child has a rectal temperature up to 102 degrees F and appears unusually irritable, lethargic, or uncomfortable, or has a temperature above 102 degrees F. Additionally, for children between six and twenty-four months, contact a doctor if their rectal temperature exceeds 102 degrees F for more than a day. Seeking prompt medical attention is crucial to ensure the well-being of infants and toddlers.
In case your child is 2 years old or older, it’s recommended to contact your doctor if their fever persists for more than three days, or if they show signs of being non-reactive to your attempts to communicate with them.
Febrile seizures, which can occur in children between 6 months to 5 years old, are associated with high body temperature and involve shaking of limbs and loss of consciousness on both sides of the body, according to Mayo Clinic. It’s important to seek immediate medical care if a seizure lasts longer than five minutes or take your child to the doctor as soon as possible after the seizure to determine the cause of the seizure.
3 The Role of Fever in Fighting Infections
Although many people worry about a fever, it can actually be beneficial. While some medications can lower a fever, such as Tylenol or Advil, there are times when it is better to leave it untreated, as it may help your body fight infections. However, if your doctor suspects a bacterial infection, such as pneumonia or strep throat, they may prescribe antibiotics.
4 What Is the Recommended Body Temperature Threshold for COVID-19?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19, which is caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, is characterized by various symptoms, including fever. However, having a low body temperature is not indicative of COVID-19.
To monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms, the CDC suggests checking your body temperature twice a day if you suspect you’ve been in contact with the virus. According to the CDC, a fever is defined as a temperature of 100.4 degrees F or higher. For children under 4 years old, the CDC recommends using an ear thermometer or placing a regular thermometer under their arm in the center of their armpit. If your child’s armpit temperature registers at 99.4 degrees F or higher, they have a fever. These precautions can help you catch the early signs of COVID-19 and take appropriate action.
To get tested for COVID-19, contact your local health department or a medical provider if you experience symptoms like high body temperature. While most individuals with COVID-19 experience mild illness and can recover at home, it is still important to take necessary precautions and seek medical advice if needed.
5 Body Temperature Decreases with Age: The Elderly Have Lower Body Temperatures
As we grow older, we may feel chilly even on hot summer days. Research has revealed that our average body temperature decreases slightly as we age. A study conducted on 133 residents of a nursing home, published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, showed that individuals in the age group of 65 to 74 years had body temperatures below average. The temperature was even lower in people aged 75 to 84, and the lowest among individuals older than 85 years. Shockingly, some of them registered a low body temperature of 93.5 degrees F in normal circumstances. This is an essential aspect to consider as older adults may have a fever even at lower temperatures compared to younger individuals. Thus, it is vital to monitor the body temperature of seniors and take necessary measures to keep them warm and comfortable.
6 There are disparities in body temperature between males and females.
The old saying “cold hands, warm heart” might have some scientific backing. According to a study by researchers at the University of Utah, women’s average core body temperature is 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit higher than men’s (97.8 vs. 97.4), but their hands are on average 2.8 degrees Fahrenheit colder than men’s — 87.2 degrees Fahrenheit compared to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
7 A Head Covering Alone May Not Be Sufficient to Retain Body Warmth
The commonly held belief that wearing a hat is essential to retain body heat in cold weather may not be entirely accurate, as per a medical journal BMJ. Several studies have indicated that the head is not significantly different from any other body part in terms of heat loss. Any uncovered part of the body can lead to heat loss, which will lower the core body temperature in proportion. Therefore, wearing warm clothes that cover the entire body is a more effective way to retain body heat than merely wearing a hat.
8 Lying can alter your body temperature, according to research.
Deceiving may not extend your nose like Pinocchio, but it can have an effect on your body temperature. Spanish researchers discovered this effect, which they dubbed the “Pinocchio effect.” Using thermal imaging, they showed that the anxiety caused by lying can decrease the temperature of the nose and increase the temperature around the forehead. In April 2018, the Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling published their study.
9 Consuming red pepper may increase your body’s internal temperature.
Consuming red pepper can have more benefits than just adding spice to your food. In a study published in Physiology and Behavior, participants who added 1 gram of red pepper to their meals experienced an increase in core body temperature and a decrease in skin temperature. The researchers suggest that the heat production caused by the pepper, along with decreased appetite sensations, could be helpful for managing weight. This could be especially beneficial for people who are not used to eating spicy foods.
10 The Brain May Benefit from a Lower Body Temperature
Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that therapeutic hypothermia is a treatment option for individuals who have experienced sudden cardiac arrest. The procedure involves using cooling devices to bring the patient’s body temperature down to approximately 89-93 degrees Fahrenheit after the heart has been successfully restarted. This process can help minimize any potential damage to the brain and increase the likelihood of a successful recovery.
11 Using Body Temperature to Determine the Time of Death
Determining the time of death is not just a popular topic in crime dramas. Once a person dies, their body heat production stops and the body gradually cools. This process is known as algor mortis, and it has been used in forensic investigations to estimate the time of death. However, since several factors affect body temperature, it may not always provide accurate results, and its reliability is questionable.