What Is the Average Human Temperature?
The “average” human body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit was concluded from a study over 150 years ago! That temperature has been used for decades to determine the severity of illness by doctors and parents alike. Several studies, over recent years, show the average body temperature may be declining.
The original study was conducted in 1851 by a German doctor who studied 25,000 individuals and analyzed over 1 million temperatures, predominantly from the armpit. Numerous more recent studies, conducted between 1971 and 2017, measured temperatures of over 677,000 people show that the average temperature for men and women has decreased steadily over time. Times have changed, and so has the average body temperature – by about 1 degree Fahrenheit to 97.5 degrees.
Some studies even indicated that our temperatures vary throughout the body and depending on what time of day it is. For instance, our temperature will typically be higher later in the day and cooler in the morning. The hottest part of our body is around the liver and the coldest is the skin’s surface. So there’s really not a “normal” temperature as much as an “average” temperature.
The cause of this change is still a mystery, but there are a few hypotheses! During the earlier study, there were so many variables that could have come into play, like whether or not the people being studied were healthy, where the thermometer was placed and what type of thermometer was used. Over the years, infectious diseases have decreased, and our surroundings have changed dramatically! People tend to spend more time in climate-controlled environments, making it unnecessary for our body’s own metabolic system to warm or cool us. Sitting in a 72-degree office doesn’t stimulate the body quite as much as a 40-degree cave!
One thing the experts all still agree on is that a fever is still a fever! Although the average body temperature is lower, a temperature of more than 100 degrees F should be cause for alarm. Adding that “how you feel” is the most important thing!
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