Eight Interesting Facts About Body Temperature
Healthy human body temperature ranges between 97ºF (36.1ºC) to 99ºF (37.2ºC) and the normal core body temperature of 98.6ºF (37ºC) is usually cited as normal. It is considered as one of the primary indicators of good health along with pulse rate, blood pressure, and respiration rate.
The human body temperature is not the same throughout the day. It is observed that the temperature shows less during early morning between 4 to 6 AM and the maximum during the evening between 5 to 7 PM. The variance is found to be +/- 0.5ºC in most cases. Since the routine activity during the day results in slightly higher temperature, the body temperature is also linked to physical activity.
The temperature recorded from different body areas like oral, rectal, vaginal, armpits, ear membrane; temporal also shows slight variations. While the rectal temperature is widely considered to accurately reflect the core body temperature, the temperature recorded by placing the thermometer at armpits is lower by around 1ºC.
The temperature of human body is also affected by age. It has been studied that with advancing age, the average body temperature gets lower. In one recent study, the average temperatures of people in the age of 65 to 74 years showed lower than the average mean. The temperature measured by people within age 75 to 84 years showed still lower averages. Many healthy people above 85 years showed average body temperature of 93.5ºF under normal circumstances. This also points to the fact that the senior citizens might be actually under fever at lower average body temperatures in comparison to young adults.
During sleep, the body temperature tends to show lower readings and during deep sleep hours the temperature show a significant drop of 1-2ºC. It has also been studied that lowering skin temperature by 10ºC (by wearing a suit) helped people in getting sound sleep.
Smoking can also increase the body temperature. When the cigarette smoke that we inhale goes to the lungs, the body temperature maintenance function by the lungs cannot be carried out adequately, and thus the body temperature rises. The effect is known to persist for 15-20 minutes after you finish smoking.
The human body is a great thermo regulator. When we go to the environment where the temperature is higher, the body sweats to cool the skin and protect the vital internal organs like brain, heart, kidney, etc. Similarly, on experiencing the extremely cold environment, the body shivers and the resultant muscular activity helps the body to generate heat and maintain body temperature.
Whenever the body temperature is between 99ºF to 103ºF or above, the condition is called fever. Fevers are not always bad. The higher body temperature signals the defense systems of the body to gear itself to fight foreign bacteria, virus or infections that have entered the body. However, if the fever persists for more than three days or accompanied by other indications, consulting your physician is always recommended.