Nugget of Knowledge: Human body temperature


We all recognize 98.6 degrees as a normal temperature but what, really, is normal?

(WYTV) – When you come to work in the morning, does someone point that funny gun-looking thing at your forehead and take your temperature? A fever is one possible sign you could have the coronavirus.

We all recognize 98.6 degrees as a normal temperature but what, really, is normal?

Despite the fixation on 98.6 degrees, doctors say there is no single universal “normal” body temperature for everyone at all times.

Throughout the day, your body temperature can vary by as much as one degree.

It changes when you are sick, goes up during and after exercise, and tends to decline with age.

After studying 25,000 people in Leipzig in 1867, German physician Carl Wunderlich said 98.6 degrees is normal.

But a study of 35,000 adults in Great Britain said the average temperature is lower — 97.9 degrees.

A study in Palo Alta, California found the average among hundreds of thousands was lower still — 97.5.

Normal body temperature has been dropping over the past 150 years. People run cooler today than they did two centuries ago.


Over the years, our hygiene has improved, as well as our sanitation and medical treatment. Today, we have fewer infections, which would trigger higher body temperatures.

That’s the theory, but understanding why body temperatures are declining remains an open question for scientists and doctors to explore.

In the meantime, 98.6 degrees may actually be a bit on the warm side. Don’t get too much warmer — you might not get into work or on that plane.

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