Why there is no “normal” body temperature

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If you think 98.6°F is the “normal” body temperature for everyone, you may need to think again.

Stanford Medicine researchers have found that body temperature is more individual than we previously thought.

It not only depends on individual factors such as age, gender, weight and height, but also changes at different times of the day.

What the researchers found

dr Julie Parsonnet, one of the lead authors of the study, disproved the popular belief that the “normal” body temperature is 38.6°C.

According to her, it varies significantly from person to person and even from one time of the day to another.

For example, an 80-year-old thin man might have a lower body temperature in the morning than a 20-year-old woman who is obese in the afternoon.

Researchers analyzed over 618,000 oral temperature measurements taken from adults at Stanford Health Care between 2008 and 2017.

They also used machine learning techniques to filter out data that could be affected by certain diseases or drugs, providing a more accurate average temperature.

They found that a so-called “normal” body temperature is actually closer to 30 °C.

Males generally had lower temperatures than females, and body temperature tended to decrease with age and height, but increased with weight.

The time of day was also an important factor: the lowest temperatures were in the early morning and the highest around 4 p.m

How the 98.6°F myth began

The widespread belief that 30 °C is the “normal” body temperature dates back to a German study in the 1860s.

Even then, the study found temperature differences between different people and at different times of the day.

However, over time, this nuanced understanding was reduced to a simple average of 98.6°F, which was universally accepted as the standard for everyone.

Why it matters: Rethinking “normal”.

Personalized medical care

Understanding that body temperature is not universal can have significant implications for healthcare.

dr Parsonnet shared her own experience with her elderly mother-in-law, who went weeks without a diagnosis of a heart infection because her temperature never reached what is traditionally defined as a fever — above 100.0°F, or 100.4°F.

The need for further research

About a quarter of the variation in body temperature from person to person can be attributed to factors such as age, gender, height, weight and time of day.

This leaves many unexplained variations that could be influenced by a number of unstudied factors such as clothing, physical activity, menstrual cycles, and even weather conditions.

New research could help create personalized benchmarks for body temperature, making it a more accurate and useful vital sign.

Studies could also examine how a consistently higher or lower “normal” temperature might affect life expectancy.

In summary, the Stanford Medicine study challenges long-held notions of what constitutes a “normal” body temperature.

The findings pave the way for a more personalized approach to healthcare and may potentially influence how we define fever and other critical health markers. It’s a reminder that there is definitely no one size fits all for our body.

If your well-being is important to you, please read studies on exercise, which is essential for improving the life expectancy of older people, and this diet method could help extend life expectancy.

Further information on the topic of wellness can be found in current studies Vitamin D supplements significantly reduce cancer death ratesand results show that this type of exercise can slow bone aging.

The research results can be found in the JAMA Internal Medicine.

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Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: LauraCoffey@worldtimetodays.com.

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