What is the normal body temperature?

Answering the question of what is normal body temperature is not easy since there are many factors that cause it to vary, even slightly. A) Yes the type of diet, emotions or stress can influence our temperature, in addition to gender, age or time of day.

Having said that, in medicine a normal temperature will be between 36 and 37 ºC. Or, if we want to be more exact, 36.6ºC, according to a investigation published in 2017 in the ‘British Medical Journal’. In addition, it must be taken into account that as the years and generations go by, the average temperature drops by 0.03 ºC every decade, according to another study more recent, conducted by Stanford University of Medicine.

Temperature control (thermoregulation) is carried out from our brain, specifically from the hypothalamus which is located at its base. It is a kind of organic thermostat that sets the body temperature, under normal conditions, at 36-37º degrees so that the body can function, although the ambient temperature is very different.

This function is vital since, for example, an internal body temperature that is too low can cause arrhythmias, inactivate proteins and even cause death.

How does the hypothalamus work?
When the core body temperature approaches low values ​​(less than 36 degrees Celsius), our body reacts through the hypothalamus.
Thus, when it is very cold, it sends signals for there to be a reduction in the volume of blood that circulates near the surface of the body in order to retain a greater volume of warm blood near the internal organs. Or, also, it is responsible for us shivering from the cold since it is the one that commands the muscles of the body to produce repetitive contraction movements and generate energy in the form of heat.

And, on the contrary, if the body temperature exceeds 37 degrees, the hypothalamus signals for an increase in the volume of blood to take place and send the warm towards the surface of the skin to facilitate its cooling. In addition, the body also combats the increase in internal heat by producing greater amounts of perspiration (sweat to cool the skin).

Why does the temperature rise and fall?

Being a few degrees warmer than normal can be caused by infection, severe trauma, or injury (such as heat stroke or burns). Also, certain medications, such as antihistamines, can raise your body temperature. As for why the temperature drops, it is given because the body cools down and loses heat faster than it generates. It usually occurs when we are exposed to cold air, water, wind or cold rain. There is talk of hypothermia when the body temperature is about 35ºC or less.

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Temperature and age

As we get older, the control of body temperature becomes more important since the body temperature regulation systems are less agile as the years go by. This causes the body of the elderly to not respond correctly or to respond more slowly to exposure to sudden changes in temperature. In this way, for older people it is not necessary to be exposed to extreme weather conditions to be affected.

Factors to consider when measuring body temperature

  • The best time to measure it is between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • In winter our temperature is higher than in summer.
  • Women are about 0.2 degrees higher than men. This factor can increase depending on menstruation or hormonal changes.
  • As for the position when taking it, the ideal will be sitting or decubitus.
  • People who do more physical exercise have a higher temperature.
  • Stress, alcohol, and poor diet can increase normal body temperature by up to 0.5 degrees.
  • Obesity affects changes in temperature as well as diabetes and hypothyroidism.
  • The consumption of certain medications such as antidepressants directly influence the temperature.