Lower Body Temperature While Sick: Why and How to Help

Can you have lower body temperature while sick? Yes, it may be caused by infection, neurologic conditions, etc. See a doctor if the condition lasts.

The human body changes its temperature whenever it’s fighting an illness, as one of the measures to protect itself. I guess everyone has had a high temperature due to an illness at least once in their life. But, when the body temperature is considered higher as normal? Any body temperature above 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius is a higher temperature than normal. However, did you know that the body temperature can get lower than normal due to an illness? Learn about the illnesses associated with low body temperature.

The Basics of Low Body Temperature When Sick

Common Symptoms

One of the most obvious signs of low body temperature is shivering accompanied by goose bumps in the skin and teeth chattering. The following symptoms are observed as well when the body temperature gets lower than normally:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Purple fingers and toes
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Weak pulse
  • Dilated pupils
  • Slurred speech
  • Tiredness
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Difficulties making decisions

What’s Considered Dangerous?

A lower body temperature than the normal body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is usually a sign of a disease which required proper medical attention. However, as everyone is unique so is everyone’s body temperature. For some, a lower body temperature is something normal compared to others. In certain cases, such as after the death of a loved one, or any other major life event the body temperature can get lower than it usually does. This is not a problem at all and you should not worry about it.

However, you should worry about your body temperature and the fact that it’s lower than the normal one when it goes down and remains down. In this case, you should go and seek professional medical help and discover the real reason behind this lower body temperature.

What a Low Body Temperature May Indicate?

Neurologic Conditions

Any problem with the neurologic system can lead to having a low body temperature when sick. Parkinson’s disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, brain trauma, a ruptured brain aneurysm, etc., are all neurologic conditions that can lead to a lower body temperature than normal. Did you know that the body temperature is regulated from a certain part of the brain known as the hypothalamus? This means that any condition which affects the hypothalamus can lead to a lower body temperature than normal.

Infection

Usually, in cases of an infection, the body temperature is higher than the normal one. However, this is not always the case and a person can have a low body temperature, especially babies and small children who get an infection. Seek professional medical help if you notice any signs of infection and the presence of other signs and symptoms such as a cough, a rash, sore throat, etc.

Mental Illness

Certain mental illnesses such as anorexia, anxiety, etc., can lead to having a low body temperature when sick. In cases of anorexia, due to a body starvation, the slower metabolism will lead to a lower blood pressure and a lower body temperature at the same time.

In cases of anxiety, the high stress is characterized by a higher blood flow toward the major body organs in order to survive, while the extremities are left with a lack of blood flow, leading this way to a lower body temperature than normal.

Medication

Many medications used for the treatment of various conditions can lead to having a lower body temperature than normal. Usually, medications used for the treatment of anxiety, depression or pain have this effect.

What Can You Do About It?

First of all, it is very important to determine the real cause of the low body temperature when sick. Once the diagnosis is made, the treatment is focused on the underlying medical condition. In acute cases of low body temperature, especially while being exposed for a long period of time to harsh climatic conditions, warming up the body properly is an immediate necessity, until the normal body temperature is restored. In severe cases of hypothermia, hospitalization is always a must.

Hypothermia and any change of the body temperature should be a sign of concern especially in women while pregnant, in small babies and young children, etc. In small babies, the body temperature significantly depends on the clothes the baby is wearing as well as from the temperature of the environment where the baby is living. 

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