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Fluctuating Body Temperature

Our body regulates its temperature according to the inner (body) and outer (environment) conditions. But regularly fluctuating body temperature may indicate towards some serious problem.
Niharika Arya
Last Updated: May 4, 2018
Our body regulates the temperature according to different circumstances and seasons. Normal body temperature is 98.2ºF or 36ºC and the normal fluctuation in this temperature may be 97.0ºF or 36.1ºC on the lower scale and 100.0ºF or 37.8ºC on the upper scale. Any temperature above and below the limits may be a result of some complications. Fluctuating body temperature can be considered as a part of body's defense mechanism. In the hot conditions, heat loss is observed in the form of sweating and at the time of cold conditions heat gain by the body takes place through shivering. Hence we can say, shivering and sweating are the most common symptoms of temperature fluctuation in the body.
Reasons Behind Body Temperature Fluctuation

Following are some of the reasons behind the fluctuating body temperature.
  • Body Growth: Temperature fluctuation in the body of an infant is very commonly observed. The temperature increases slightly within one or two days after the birth of the baby. Then the temperature is said to decrease slightly from infancy to middle age but after that, the temperature starts increasing again.
  • Hormonal Changes: Hormonal changes cause temperature fluctuation. During menstruation, the temperature of a woman's body increases up to 0.2-0.9ºF (0.15-0.45ºC). Menopause also increases the temperature of the body. During pregnancy, the metabolic rate of a woman's body increases and this results in the increase of her body temperature.
  • Circadian rhythms: Circadian rhythms show the temperature fluctuation between the period of rest and activity of the body. Researches have shown that from 0300hrs to 0500hrs and 1300hrs and 1600hrs the body temperature dips to its lowest level and hence, the person feels cold despite the same surrounding temperature.
  • Fever: Fever can be a reason and a symptom for the temperature fluctuation. It is the most common disorder to be noticed, that can easily reveal the fluctuating temperature and is the symptom for many diseases. In adults, oral temperature of 100ºF and rectal temperature 101ºF is considered as fever. Fever can be caused due to many conditions like infection, intake of medicines or drugs like antibiotics or narcotics, etc. Injury, trauma and other medical conditions like arthritis, liver and lung cancer, etc. can also raise the temperature of the body.
  • Other Factors: Other factors may include temperature rise after the meal, consumption of alcohol, exercise, etc.
Body Temperature Fluctuation in Hot Weather

When the temperature of our surroundings is more than the body temperature, our body tends to lose heat to maintain the inner body temperature. In this process, the sweat glands expand and release the excess heat from your body to the surface of the skin, in the form of sweat. In return, the sweat evaporates and cools down the body. This is a very common way of keeping the body cool in the summers. But due to some body temperature regulation problems, the temperature rises uncontrollably, which is generally known as fever. This sudden rise can also cause death, as a person cannot survive above 111ºF or 44ºC temperature. To avoid such conditions, one should know the reasons behind the rising temperature. The temperature of the body can increase due to many reasons like fever, heart attack, leukemia, and many diseases. In such medical conditions, our immune system is unable to protect the body. So, it's better to consult a doctor immediately when you notice an unusual temperature rise.
Body Temperature Fluctuation in Cold Weather
In winters, the body tries to keep itself warm by gaining or saving heat from the atmosphere. The blood vessels take the blood from the small capillaries and take it to the inner warm parts of the body. Muscles receive message form the brain to shiver and this generates heat. Shivering is said to be more effective in generating heat than exercise. It uses glucose as its fuel and makes the body warm. Goose bumps also help the body to store heat. Low body temperature is caused by exposure to cold atmosphere, metabolic disorder, etc. A person cannot survive with a body temperature which is below 79ºF or 26ºC.
Serious Consequences of Temperature Fluctuation
Huge variation in body temeprature may be dangerous and may even cause death. Following are some of the consequences which may result from temperature change.
  • Due to High Temperature: The serious consequences associated with the rise in temperature are severe headache, dizziness, confusion, serious brain damage, cardio-respiratory collapse, continuous convulsions, shock, etc. Human body cannot tolerate a temperature above 111ºF or 44ºC temperature.
  • Due to Low Temperature: The serious consequences associated with extreme cool or low temperature are comatose, no or slight reflexes, very shallow breathing, severe heart rhythm disturbances, respiratory arrest, etc. Human is unable to survive below 79ºF or 26ºC temperature.
It is very important to maintain a constant body temperature and this can be easily done by measuring the temperature regularly and getting it treated in time. You can follow some easy tips to bring the temperature back to normal. In case of high temperature or fever, wear light clothes, drink cool liquids, take lukewarm water bath, etc. Likewise in case of low temperature try to keep your body warm by wearing warm clothes and having hot fluids. More fluctuations in temperature can be fatal, hence if the temperature keeps on increasing or decreasing rapidly, then consult a doctor immediately. So, next time if you observe temperature fluctuation, just take a thermometer and keeping a track of your body temperature to get proper treatment on time.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.