The What and Why of Low Body Temperature

A temperature of 98.6°F is normal for an average person, give or take a few points. It may drop a few points because of the weather or when the person enters a cold room. When this temperature drops to 96.9°F and below, it is now considered a lower than normal body temperature, and may be a cause of concern.

Causes of Low Body Temperature

A lower than normal body temperature is a cause for worry because it may be a sign of an illness. An abnormal drop may mean be a symptom of any of the following diseases: Addison’s disease, cancer, diabetes, hypothyroidism, liver failure, kidney failure, or sepsis.

It could also mean that the person is suffering from too much stress and is on the verge of burnout. Another possibility is that the person has insomnia and has a hard time sleeping at night. A lower than normal body temperature may also mean that the person is in shock because of trauma. This may also lead to hyperventilation or asthma.

Low body temperature may also be a side effect of certain medications. Some people’s bodies may react negatively to their medicine and signal the hypothalamus—the temperature regulating gland of the body—to lower its temperature, causing the person to experience chills. Or it may be a symptom of alcohol or drug abuse, leading to an overdose of either.

When a person is exposed to cold, harsh surroundings, there is also the risk of his body going to shock and hypothermia. This is a dangerous state and can cause death if not attended to immediately.

Symptoms of Low Body Temperature

Most people who have lower than normal body temperature experience chills and shivering. It may also be accompanied by goose bumps, the chattering of teeth, and a slow heartbeat. The person’s extremities, particularly his fingernails and toenails, may also turn purple because the blood is having a hard time flowing through his blood vessels.

A person with low body temperature may also experience drowsiness and sudden fatigue. He may have a hard time making decisions or speaking because his words will come out slurred. Confusion is also a common symptom of low body temperature, and it may be coupled with either dilated pupils, a weak pulse, or both.

First-aid for Low Body Temperature

For some people, a lower than normal body temperature is a usual occurrence, especially if their immediate surroundings are perpetually cool. But for those who suddenly experience an abnormal drop of body temperature, it is imperative that they are given attention so that they won’t go to shock or hypothermia.

Below are some first aid remedies that anyone can apply to people who experience a lower than normal body temperature:

  1. Remove the person from a cold environment, if possible. If the person is in an air-conditioned room, turn the air conditioner off or bring the individual outside. Let him change into dry clothing if his clothes are wet.
  2. Gradually apply warmth onto the person’s body, particularly in the neck, chest, and groin area. Do not rewarm the person too quickly, because a sudden change in body temperature may cause his condition to worsen.
  3. Offer the person a non-alcoholic drink that is warm and sweet.
  4. Bring him to the nearest clinic or hospital for a checkup.