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What Is the New Normal Temperature?

By Randi Morse

How often do you take your temperature? Most people only take their temperatures when they're not feeling well. An elevated temperature can tell you a lot about what's going on in your body, namely that your body is fighting some sort of infection or virus or bacteria. Women who are trying to conceive often chart their body temperatures to help them determine the best time for conception. We've been told our whole lives that our normal body temperature is 98.6, but could that number be incorrect?

How Normal Body Temperature Happened

How did we even decide that 98.6 is the normal body temperature? It all goes back to a German physician by the name of Carl Wunderlich. In 1851, Wunderlich surveyed 25,000 people in a city and determined that the average temperature was 98.6. This means that for almost 170 years we have believed that the average body temperature is, and should be, 98.6, and that anything higher or lower than that is "abnormal." 

Today's Body Temperature

Every time I've gone to the doctor and they've taken my temperature it has come out as 97.7. I've had some nurses tell me that the number is a little low and others tell me that it's completely fine. It turns out that a more recent study of temperatures is showing that the average oral temperature is around 97.7. This study included over 35,000 residents of the United Kingdom as well as more than 250,000 different temperature measurements. 

But why would the body temperature have lowered that much? Physiologically we are very different than our ancestors were. Our ancestors didn't have modern electronics or equipment, like air conditioners, that allow us to more completely control the temperature of our surroundings. They didn't have access to the same foods, either. All these small changes have added up to a huge difference in our average body temperature.

Does this mean that you're battling a fever if your temperature is 98.6? Not necessarily. It's a good idea to learn what your average temperature is. You can do this by taking your temperature multiple times, over multiple days, and finding the average. This way you'll know that if your temperature is slightly elevated, there might be something going on inside your body.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Elgin, Ill

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