A normal body temperature is around 37°C (Celsius) or 98.6°F (Fahrenheit). However, the concept of there being a normal body temperature is somewhat misleading. In fact normal body temperature can vary according to a wide range of factors including a person’s age, the time of day and whether someone is active or not. It is generally accepted that normal body temperature ranges between 36.1°C (97°F) to 37.2°C (99°F).

The list of factors that influence body temperature depends on:

  • the person;
  • their age and gender;
  • what they’ve been doing;
  • the time of day; and
  • which part of the body you take the temperature from.

For example:

  • Body Temperature increases by 0.5°C between 6am to 3pm.
  • Women have a temperature a little higher, on average, by around 0.2°C.
  • Women’s temperatures also varies in accordance with their ovarian menstrual cycle and the early stages of pregnancy, rising by 0.5°C.
  • When sitting, your temperature is lower by about 0.3°C to 0.4°C than when standing.

In order to ensure that precise and accurate temperature measurements are obtainedit is essential that each user have received adequate information and training in the temperature measurement technique when using different temperature devices. It is essential to remember that although the procedure such as taking your temperature may be simple, it must not be trivialised. Also it is important to ensure that Body Temperature should be taken in a neutral context, i.e. the person must not have undertaken vigorous physical activity prior to taking their temperature and room temperature must be moderate (i.e. 10°-40°C).

A fever is a temperature of more than 38°C or 100.4°F or over. However, in children under the age of five years, a fever is a body temperature of more than 37.5°C or 99.5°F. Most fevers are caused by an infection or another illness and fevers helps your body fight infections by stimulating the body’s natural defences. By increasing the body’s temperature, a fever makes it harder for the bacteria and viruses that cause infections to survive.

If you are concerned about your Body Temperature or that of a child in your care, consult the relevant Self-Help Guide within your Country or contact your medical team.