Body temperature is an important indicator of our health. What is normal body temperature? What part of the body gives the most accurate readings? Find out the answers to these and other questions regarding body temperature.
- Your body is great thermoregulator: Our body has an amazing ability to keep its temperature within safe range to keep you healthy, no matter what conditions you are exposed to outside the body. When you feel hot, you start sweating, which cools you body down. When you feel cold, you start shivering, which is involuntary muscle contractions that generate heat. Goosebumps that appear on skin when you are feeling cold are actually tiny muscles that raise body hairs, which increase their thickness.
- Normal body temperature: It is commonly accepted that normal human body temperature is 98.6 degrees F or 37 degrees C. However, there is also a number of variations to normal body temperature that depend on many factors, such as the time of the day, outside temperature, age of the person and others. Temperature may vary by 1 degrees F (0.6 degrees C), from 97 degrees F (36.1 degrees C) to 99 degrees F (37.2 degrees C), which is considered within normal range.
- The body temperature varies throughout the day: Body temperature undergoes minor changes throughout the day. It is the lowest in the morning, between 4 and 6 a.m. and highest in the evening, around 6 to 8 p.m. Temperature also changes during sleep. Usually it starts to drop when we fall asleep, ensuring sound sleep and needed rest.
- Rectal temperature - most accurate: Body temperature is measured with the help of different types of thermometers in various parts of the body. Temperature taken in your mouth may be influenced by many factors and is usually lower, while rectal and ear measurements are slightly higher than oral temperature readings. Temperature taken in your armpit may me the least accurate since it may not directly indicate core temperature. The most accurate way to measure body temperature is to take temperature rectally.
- Fever is good for you: Many of us are scared of fever and try to reduce fever with medications. However, fever is not an illness, but the body's defense mechanism that fights infections and is basically harmless. Fever slows the growth of pathogenic bacteria and activates white blood cells to fight infection. Fever may range between 100 degrees to 104 degrees F and higher (37.8 degrees - 40 degrees C), but not all of them need to be treated with medications. The general rule of thumb is that fever medicines are necessary when it causes you or your child discomfort or there are other dangerous signs such as trouble breathing or pain.