Medical experts called for “reducing” the traditional measure of normal body temperature by one degree, to 36 degrees Celsius, while others saw the necessity of “not adopting any measure,” according to a report published by the newspaper “Washington Post“American.
According to the scale adopted in the nineteenth century, the normal temperature for humans is 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
In this regard, Julie Parsonnet, a professor of medicine, epidemiology and population health at Stanford University, recalls that her mother-in-law, about 20 years ago, was suffering from aches and pains as a result of a bacterial heart infection, but her temperature did not rise.
Parsonette explained that her mother-in-law almost lost her life, had she not rushed to perform blood tests that proved the presence of this dangerous infection.
For her part, Adele Diamond, a professor of developmental cognitive neuroscience at the University of British Columbia, whose research challenges the assumption that 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) is normal, explained that “since the 1990s, experts have been saying that they should lower the scale… and I I believe that the matter should be personal according to the condition of each patient.”
Diamond suggests that doctors determine a normal basal temperature based on each individual’s condition, just as they do with checking other vital signs, adding: “There is no reason why doctors cannot do this routinely.”
Why is change in body temperature important?
Body temperature is a very important tool for detecting diseases. Fever (high body temperature) is one of the ways in which our immune system responds to the presence of a microbe in the body.
Experts consider a temperature exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.78 degrees Celsius) to be a reliable indicator of fever. An abnormally low temperature can also indicate a serious condition.
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Experts say that body temperatures, like other physical, mental and behavioral changes, change during different times over the course of 24 hours, which is why they fluctuate during the day.
In this regard, Evaella Geneva, a physician at Cross Hospital and the State University of New York, whose research has focused on circadian rhythms of body temperature, says: “The temperature continues to rise during the day… and reaches its peak about two hours before sleep, while it is at its lowest before sleep.” Two hours awake.”
Parsonette and her colleagues conducted a study published last fall that analyzed 618,306 oral temperature readings from adult patients at Stanford Health Care between 2008 and 2017, and found that their normal temperatures ranged from 97.3 degrees Fahrenheit (36.28 degrees Celsius) to 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit ( 36.78 °C), with an average of 97.9 °F (36.61 °C).
The researchers tracked the time of day that temperatures were taken, as well as each patient’s age, sex, weight, height, body mass index, medications, and health conditions.
To avoid skewing the results, the scientists excluded participants who took medications that affect body temperature, and those who had diseases.
The study found that men tend to have a lower temperature than women, and that normal readings decrease with age, noting that temperatures are lowest in the early morning and highest in the late afternoon.
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Parsonette explained: “Every day I have patients with a temperature of 98.6 (37 degrees Celsius) tell me that they feel a fever… and therefore I must take their words seriously.”
The 98.6 degree Fahrenheit scale is the standard adopted in 1868 after a German physician, Karl Reinhold August Wunderlich, published a book containing data from thousands of patients and more than a million temperature readings, describing 98.6 degrees as the “average” of normal temperature.
But some research has indicated that the normal body temperature has decreased from 98.6 degrees by about 0.05 degrees every decade since the nineteenth century, to about 97.9 degrees, and this may be a result of improved living conditions and health care that reduces the inflammation that causes high temperature.
“In the 1860s, life expectancy was in the 40s,” Parsonette said. “People were walking around with tuberculosis, terrible toothaches, rheumatic heart disease, skin infections, and a lot of other ailments.”
She added: “Good health lowers your temperature, and the less you need to exert yourself, the lower your body temperature.”
Factors that affect body temperature
There are many things that can affect your body temperature, such as drinking alcohol, cold or hot weather, exercising, soaking in a hot tub or swimming in cold water, and taking certain medications such as beta blockers (stress medications) and antipsychotics (dissociative drugs). about reality).
Some conditions — such as hypothyroidism, which is an underactive thyroid gland — can lead to low body temperature.
Experts say temperatures can also reach dangerously low levels in the presence of sepsis, a life-threatening infection.
“Be your own doctor”
Health experts believe that a person should measure his temperature once in the morning and again in the evening for several days, to know his normal range.
Experts believe that measuring the temperature through the rectum is usually the most accurate, pointing out that the oral thermometer is more reliable than measuring the temperature with a thermometer placed under the armpit.
They also stressed the necessity of not eating cold or hot foods before measuring the temperature orally.