The body has a natural ability to maintain temperature within the normal range, irrespective of the environmental condition. This ability is called homeostasis. A low or high body temperature reading indicates some medical problems. All of us become concerned about fever or high body temperature, but not many of us are aware of the effects of low temperature in children. So, what body temperature range is normal in children? Is low temperature an issue to worry about? Are there any major health conditions that cause low body temperature in children? Scroll down to find your answers.
What does it Mean?
A calibrated thermometer is used to measure body temperature in areas like the mouth, forehead, armpit, rectum, and ear. The normal body temperature in children is considered to be 98.6° F to 98.24° F, when measured orally. Nevertheless, the normal range may vary slightly depending upon other factors such as measurement location, time of the day, level of physical activity, and major hormonal changes, if any. In case, the rectal temperature falls below 97° F consistently, it indicates the condition of hypothermia in children.
The commonly identifiable symptom in children is body shivering, which is caused due to the narrowing of blood vessels in the skin and uncontrolled muscle contraction. Both these bodily changes are involuntary, and help in conserving heat, thereby enabling the body to maintain a near normal range of body temperature. Despite this physiological thermoregulation, the body may fail to maintain ideal temperature. Other symptoms of hypothermia include fatigue, slow breathing, reduced heartbeat, confusion, and bluish fingers. If the temperature reading in children is abnormally low for an extended period, it may be indicative of a serious condition that needs immediate attention.
What are the Causes?
The causes of low body temperature in children are mostly attributed to colder surroundings, common cold, and the use of fever medicine. In weak children, low body temperature may be manifested as a referred sign of shock, anemia, regular infections, and blood infections (sepsis). In adults, it may be due to several factors, like hormonal fluctuation (hypothyroidism), medicinal side effects, alcohol consumption, drug usage, and underlying metabolic problems. In women, the body temperature reading is lower than normal at the time of ovulation.
How to Treat it?
In most cases, it can be addressed by wearing warm or woolen clothes (behavioral thermoregulation) and massaging body parts to keep the blood warm. Consumption of hot foods like soup or milk will help in keeping the body comfortable. Do not forget to check the temperature setting of air conditioner in the room, and adjust it to a higher range (if required). In case usage of fever medications is the cause, stop taking that medicine, and seek advice from a doctor as soon as possible.
If a child is exhibits a low temperature for an extended time, do not delay in getting the condition addressed by a doctor. Those who have been hospitalized with a recorded body temperature of 90°F will recover successfully without medical complications; while there is a medical risk for children with temperature falling below 90° F. Also, low temperature in children is a cause of medical concern, if people living in the same room are having normal temperature readings, except for the child.
With timely medical intervention and supervision, the chances of a good prognosis and a complete recovery, are very high. Once in the hospital, the doctor will attempt to bring the temperature to a normal range, examine physical symptoms, and run diagnostic tests to identify the exact cause. Based on the test results, further therapeutic methods will be followed for prompt treatment of the child.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.