Re: Human body temps

J. Moore (
Mon, 10 Jul 95 17:15:00 -0500

TK> Why do I need to provide a source for this statement? Everyone knows
TK> that a person with 104 temperature is ill. Look it up in any medical
TK> textbook.
Tk> Troy Kelley

Since I felt sure that Troy would not himself "look it up", I dropped
over to the local library branch and found a few facts to help him out.

>From 1985 *The Body*, by Anthony Smith (George Allen & Unwin: London):

pp. 365-366:
"The word normal, as applied to human body temperature, is a splendidly
misleading description. The little arrow on the clinical thermometer,
doggedly directed at 98.4 degrees F (36.9 degrees C), gives extra
support to it and the exactness of that point four of a decimal
emphasises it even further."

[My note: Great Britain uses "98.4 degrees F" as "normal", while the
French and North Americans use "98.6 F (37 C)".]

pg. 366:
"Normally the majority of us do not have a 'normal' temerature. Infants
have a higher temperature; older people have a lower one. Ordinary
adults wake up with their temperature below normal and go to sleep with
it above normal."

pg. 368:
"To confound the picture of 'normality' still further there is the daily
cycle. Babies acquire it quickly, and then follow the traditional
pattern of a peak in the evening and a trough at dawn. An average
between maximum and minimum is 2 degrees F (1 degree C), but individuals
can go up and down by 3 degrees F (1.5 degrees C) or more. The
menstruation of women is a further complexity; during it the temperature
is low. This increases slightly with a small but pronounced rise
(perhaps as much as a degree) during ovulation when an ovary releases an
egg. A hot bath, reasonably enough, send the bather's temperature up to
100 degrees F (38 degrees C) or so. Exercise does even better. After
three miles a runner can read 105 degrees F (40.5 degrees C) rectally,
but less than normal on his skin due to all the sweating there."

So according to Troy, someone who has run 3 miles is "ill". Personally,
I would generally agree with that statement, but for reasons having
nothing to do with their body temperature.

Jim Moore (

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