What Is Your Body Temperature Telling You?

Your body temperature is an important number for evaluating your health.   That is why it is considered a “vital sign” in the medical community.  Normal things doctors get at a checkup are:  your temperature,  blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate.  These numbers give medical professionals clues to determine if you are sick and provide a basic baseline for all future checkups.

 

What is considered a normal temperature?

Used to be we considered 98.6 degrees F as normal (37 degrees C).  But it is slightly more complex than that.  A normal temperature range is:

  • Normal Range for An Adult = 97 degrees F to 99 degrees F
  • Normal Range for A Child – 97.9 degrees F to 100.4 degrees F

Your body is always running even when you sleep.  You are breathing, digesting food and your cells are busy at work.  All this activity creates heat.

On average the oral temperature of several studies points to 97.5 F.

 

Many things affect your temperature:

Your body’s normal can be different from someone else.  Your temperature changes within the day, with your activity, your age, your sex and even with what you have eaten or drank.  For women your menstrual cycle even effects your body temperature.

  • Body temperature tends to go up throughout the day and be higher later in the day.
  • Women tend to have higher body temperatures than men.
  • Younger people tend to have higher temperatures that older people.

 

Where you take your temperature can affect your number:
  • Underarm – add a degree
  • Mouth –
  • Rectal – minus a degree

Many of us have the infrared thermometers leave that number just like you would your mouth.  It is a good idea to know what your specific normal is so that you can know when it is elevated and you might have cause for concern.

 

Other things that can affect your body temperature:
  • metabolic rate
  • infection
  • inflammation

 

Body Temperature Fluctuations

Low Body Temperature or Hypothermia – Hypothermia is a body temperature below 95.  People most at risk for hypothermia are newborns and the elderly.  You do not have to be exposed to the cold to get hypothermia.  Babies and older adults can have trouble regulating their body temperatures.   A low body temperature can also be a sign that you are not well.

Causes of hypothermia can include, alcohol, anorexia, stoke Parkinson’s disease, and underactive thyroid, malnutrition and some medicines.

Hyperthermia – High body temperature. This can be caused by exercise or activity that leads to overheating or being exposed to extreme outdoor temperatures.

Hypothermia and hyperthermia are dangerous. Your body works best in a small temperature range and has a complicated thermoregulation system to keep the body’s temperature close to your normal most of the time.

 

Understanding Fever:

A fever isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  A fever is how your body fights infection.  When germs enter your body your immune system kicks and fights off those germs in an effort to avoid sickness.

See a doc if your temp is over 103 F or you have had an elevated temperature for more than 3 days.

Children’s temps are a little trickier to figure out.  Under 3 months a rectal temp of 100.4 F or higher should be checked out.  Between  3 months and 3 years rectal over 102 F.  A child older than 3 years with an oral temp above 103 F you should get your child in to the doctor.

You should always err on the side of calling your pediatrician whenever you are concerned and just do an over-the-phone consult.  They will instruct on whether you need an office visit or how to monitor the situation.  And if your child is sick or acting abnormally and there is no fever, it doesn’t hurt to go ahead and call.  Some infections, like ear infections, may not ever cause a fever.

 

Conclusion

Temperature is an important indicator of health.  97.5 degrees F is now considered the new average temperature.  Tracking your own temperature for a few days to determine your unique average number can help you identify when something isn’t quite right with your health.

 

On average the oral temperature of several studies points to 97.5 F



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HealthStatus Team

HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our blood alcohol, body fat and calories burned calculators.

The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.

Our team of health professionals, and researchers use peer reviewed studies as source elements in our articles.

Our high quality content has been featured in a number of leading websites, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Live Strong, GQ, and many more.

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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our blood alcohol, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years. Our team of health professionals, and researchers use peer reviewed studies as source elements in our articles. Our high quality content has been featured in a number of leading websites, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Live Strong, GQ, and many more.

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