We all know that various types of infections can lead to high body temperature, commonly known as fever. It is a fact that in extremely hot or cold environment, body temperature does not undergo drastic changes. The circadian rhythms that help maintain sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, also help maintain our normal body temperature. So, even in extreme heat or cold, very minor changes in body temperature are noticed. The normal range for the orally measured body temperature is 98.2 ± 1.3 °F or 36.8 ± 0.7 °C. Like very high fever, excessively low body temperature can prove to be life-threatening.
What Does Low Body Temperature Indicate
Our skin, brain, various hormones, sweat glands and blood vessels are involved in body temperature maintenance. Significantly decreased body temperature can make you feel freezing cold. Various diseases and disorders can affect the capacity of the body to regulate the temperature by balancing heat production and heat loss. Body temperature also varies during various activities. Like heart rate and blood pressure, body temperature is considered as a vital sign that helps assess the health of an individual. When the temperature of the body becomes abnormally low, the condition is referred to as 'hypothermia'.
- Prolonged exposure to extreme cold
- Addison's Disease (scarcity of adrenal gland hormones)
- Diabetes (abnormal blood sugar levels)
- Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid leading to low thyroid levels)
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Sepsis (excess bacteria in bloodstream due to widespread infection
- Excessive consumption of certain medications like sedatives or diuretics
- Alcohol abuse (alcohol affects body's ability to control heat loss)
- Drug abuse
- Undergoing a surgery
- Being under the effects of anesthesia
- Administration of cold intravenous fluids
- Several other chronic diseases like anemia, hepatitis C, etc.
Those who experience significantly decreased body temperature may exhibit the following symptoms. The symptoms may vary according to the cause, and from person to person.
Low Body Temperature Symptoms
- Shivering. By shaking a lot, your body naturally tries to warm up the muscles. By overworking the muscles, body tries to generate heat.
- Finger and toes turning purple (common in frostbite)
- Dizziness, drowsiness, lethargy
- Weak muscles
- Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting (depending upon the cause).
- Low blood sugar levels
- Headache, sweating
- Irregular or no menstrual periods
- Excessive fatigue
- Increased irritability and depression
- Fluctuations in blood pressure levels
- Slurred speech
- Confusion, lack of coordination, unable to make decisions
- Slow heartbeat, shallow breathing
- Low blood pressure that drops down further after standing, this can lead to dizziness or fainting
Treatment for Low Body Temperature
It is essential to put on warm clothes, if you have lower than normal body temperature. You should keep your head, ears, feet and hands covered. Wear a woolen cap, socks, shoes and gloves. Consult your doctor immediately, as he/she will be able to detect the exact cause of low body temperature. Proper medications will be prescribed to improve the body temperature by treating the underlying disease or disorder. Airway rewarming, cavity lavage, are some of the options which can be opted for to raise the body temperature. Wearing warm clothes, drinking hot beverages, can help manage minor conditions.
If you notice symptoms of frostbite in a person, you should cover him with blankets. Hot drinks like tea, coffee, soups help raise temperature immediately. A condition like frostbite needs prompt medical treatment. Delay in treatment can lead to loss of fingers or limbs. Rubbing hands and feet helps generate heat. Sitting by the fireside can offer great relief.
Low body temperature can prove to be fatal in some cases. You should never ignore serious changes in body temperature. I hope you found the above information regarding how to maintain normal body temperature, helpful.