Normal Body Temperature May Be Lower Than Once Thought

January 24, 2020

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Since we can remember, we're told normal body temperature if 98.6°F. But what if I were to tell you that isn't always the case.  The idea that normal is 98.6 came from a German physician who, more than a century ago, documented the normal variation in body temperature and noted that the average tended to be around 37 degrees Celsius. (That corresponds to 98.6 Fahrenheit.) Even so, he knew that normal is a range of temperatures, not a specific point on the thermometer. Our bodies are coolest in the wee hours of the morning, and we warm up during the day, hitting a peak in the evening. On top of this, activity can change our temperature: we’re hotter when we exercise, for example. However new research has concluded that the current average is more like 97.5°F. Why the difference? It could be that our modern lives have changed our bodies in some way—we tend to be taller, for example. It could also be that the “healthy” patients in the original studies were not as healthy as they looked. Perhaps they had chronic infections or other health conditions that elevated their temperature, researcher Julie Parsonnet told the Wall Street Journal. In any case, 98.6 was never an ironclad rule, and it has less support than it did before. So if you seem like you’re always running a little lower than the textbook average that may be perfectly normal. But if you child has a temperature of 100.4°F or higher, seek medical help.

SOURCE: Vitals

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