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98.6 degrees no longer the benchmark for normal temperature

Dr. Carl Wunderlich, a 19th-century German physician gave us the magic figure of 98.6 degrees. This was done by him after collecting and analysing over a million armpit temperatures for 25,000 patients.//

This has been corrected by Harvard researchers and appears in the April issue of the Harvard Health Letter.

The average normal temperature for adults is found to be 98.2 degrees, not 98.6 degrees, and replaced the 100.4 degrees fever mark with fever thresholds based on the time of day.

Research findings of another group form Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y., have found that older people have lower temperatures, even when older people are ill, their body temperature may not reach levels that people recognize as fever.

The bottom line is that individual variations in body temperature should be taken into account, reports the Harvard Health Letter.

Therefore to measure temperature effectively the doctor should have enough temperature measurements at various times of day to establish a baseline for you.

So, the 98.6 degrees F temperature threshold no longer is valid for assessment of fever.


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