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Body Temperature

What is body temperature?

Body temperature is the warmth of the body of a living being.

There is a range of temperatures that living beings are capable of withstanding. This range varies according to the adaptive characteristics of each species.

The majority of living beings generate heat through metabolic processes in their own bodies. When an individual accelerates their metabolism by performing a physical effort like running or digestion, an increase in their body temperature can also be seen. At the same time, the temperature of one’s environment affects body temperature, as well. If a living being’s body temperature is outside the normal range, their life may be in danger.

What is normal body temperature for humans?

Normal temperature for humans at rest may vary slightly between individuals due to their specific characteristics, such as age, sex, metabolism, etc. However, for the human body, euthermia is considered to be between 36.5 and 37.5°Celsius (ºC), which equals 97.7° to 99.5° Fahrenheit (ºF).

What happens if body temperature rises above normal?

From 37.5ºC (99.5°F) up, the human body is said to be experiencing hyperthermia or fever, which is an abnormally high temperature. Hyperthermia is usually caused by an infectious process, illness, poisoning, or exposure to heat.

Often, a fever suddenly sounds the alarm, like a security system for the body to fight a disease by trying to raise the temperature to a point that will eliminate the threat inside the organism. However, the body’s own cells may be affected in the process. Starting at a body temperature of 40.0ºC (104.0 ºF), the human body is approaching the limit of bodily heat it can withstand, leading to dehydration, cramps, dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, delusions, arrhythmias, brain damage, coma, and even death.

What happens if body temperature drops below normal?

Body temperatures below 35.0°C (95.0°F) can cause hypothermia. The most common reason for hypothermia is usually exposure to outdoor temperatures that are well below the ideal range for body temperature.

When the outside temperature is very low, the ability to self-regulate the internal body temperature can be affected. In mild states of hypothermia, down to 33°C (91.4 ºF), chills, confusion, and clumsiness occur. Below this temperature, drowsiness, memory loss, slow and shallow breathing, difficulty communicating and modulating, a weak pulse, difficulty using limbs, arrhythmias, loss of consciousness, failure in major organs, absence of vital signs, and death may occur.

Although less common, there are other causes of hypothermia that are not directly related to external temperatures, such as hyperthyroidism and intoxication.

How is body temperature measured?

The instrument used to measure body temperature is called a clinical thermometer. There are a wide variety of graduated thermometers for different temperature scales. Most thermometers work through the transfer of heat when in direct contact with the mouth, rectum, armpit, or ear; there are also infrared thermometers that can measure body temperature with a quick scan at a certain distance.

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