You’ve probably had your temperature taken more in the past six months than any other time in your entire life. And you might have noticed something – you’re not normal.
When it comes to body temperature, the normal temperature is 98.6° Fahrenheit or 37° Celsius. Chances are you aren’t, though, are you? Well, nobody else is either.
Normal for adults is considered 97°F (36.1° C) to 99°F (37.2° C), babies’ temperatures are normal between 97.9°F to 100.4°F. Adults aren’t considered sick until they reach 100.4°F (38° C), according to the CDC.
And people’s body temperature fluctuates throughout the day and throughout their lifetime. Changes in temperature can be traced to how active they are, their age, gender, weight, time of day, and what they ate or drank for dinner.
So who came up with 98.6°?
In 1851, Carl Wunderlich determined that the average temperature for adults was 98.6 degrees, but the U.S. National Library of Medicine has acknowledged that “normal” varies by person. Some people are just cooler.
Dr. Julie Parsonnet, a professor of medicine and health research and policy at Stanford University School of Medicine, studied the evolution of humans’ body temperatures from periods in the mid-19th Century to 2017 and found that 75 percent have body temperatures lower than 98.6 degrees.
A recent study of 35,000 British residents found that their average temperature is 97.9°.
So why are people more chill these days? Some researchers explain that thermometers are more exact than they were 170 years ago.
Others say it could be due to people expending less energy and having slower metabolic rates. Slower metabolisms are a result of less inflammation, researchers point out. Because these days people have fewer chronic infections, like tuberculosis or periodontal disease.
Overall, people are cooler now.
Amanda Rogers is a freelance writer based in Fort Worth, Texas
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