DR Ambedkar IAS Academy

98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is no longer the normal human body temperature

The moment we start feeling sick, we use the thermometer to measure our body temperature. Even when we go to a doctor, the first thing they do is note down our body temperature to see if our body is functioning normally. For as long as we know, 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37°C) is considered as the average human body temperature, but a recent study revealed that there has been a slight drop in the number in the past century.
Since the 19th century, the normal body temperature meant 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37°C). This number was given by a German doctor Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich, after examining millions of reading taken from 25,000 German patients. Later the doctors of the U.S. and Europe repeated the same experiment and their results were similar. Following which, it was universally accepted as the normal human body temperature.

However, as per the new study carried out by the researchers at Stanford University, the normal body temperature of human being dropped by 0.03 degrees Celsius and 0.29 degrees Celsius per decade, for men and women respectively. This means the body temperature of men today is 0.59 degrees Celsius lower than that of men born in the early 19th century and for women, it has dropped by 0.32 degrees Celsius from the 1890s to today.
Julie Parsonnet, professor of medicine at the university and her team analysed 677,000 temperature readings, collected from 190,000 people, between 1862 and 2017 before coming to this conclusion. As per the researchers, the drop in the temperature might be influenced by several factors like change in height, weight, lifestyle habit and availability of the better medical facility.

Apart from this, Parsonnet also contributed to the development of treatment for infectious diseases like tuberculosis, syphilis, periodontal disease, dysentery, general inflammation, behind the shift in the normal body temperature. However, the researchers do not advise updating the standard for all individuals.

The truth about the normal range of body temperature
The body temperature is not the same for all and varies on the basis of sex, age and other factors. For a typical adult, body temperature can be between 97 F to 99 F. For babies and children, the number varies from 97.9 F to 100.4 F. Moreover, our body temperature does not remain the same all day. It even varies throughout our lifetime. Few things that can cause a change in your temperature during the day are:

-Level of physical activity

-Time of the day

-What you’ve eaten or had to drink

-For women, it changes even when they are menstruating

Moreover, the temperature even varies based on which you measure it – forehead, underarms, mouth. Reading taken from under the arms and mouth shows a different number. When a person has a fever, the body temperature is higher than the normal range.


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