What Causes a Low Body Temperature of 96 to 97°F?

A body temperature of 97 degrees Fahrenheit is typically considered normal. While a temperature of 96 degrees is unusually low, it is unlikely to raise alarm unless you have accompanying symptoms. A temperature of less than 95 degrees is considered hypothermia and should be treated immediately.

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What You Think Is Normal Body Temperature Isn’t

During the 1800s, a German doctor named Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich calculated that a healthy human adult’s body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. However, new research has suggested that the average body temperature is between 97.5 and 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit, with any temperature between 97 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit being considered normal.

Fewer diseases may have caused less inflammation in the body, while heating and air conditioning, as well as less exercise, may have slowed people’s metabolic rates — how quickly they burn energy — compared to their grandparents even just a few generations ago.

Every person’s body temperature varies during the day, depending on factors such as age, sex, menstrual cycle, nutrition, weather, and degree of exercise. Even the time of day can have an effect on a person’s body temperature. The method used to take a temperature can have an impact on the results.

Environmental Considerations

A person’s body temperature can be lowered by their surroundings. People who spend time in cold weather without clothing appropriately may experience low body temperatures, which can be exacerbated by exposure to rain, ice, snow, or wind. Age, health, and body mass can all have an impact on how the weather influences a person’s temperature. Another factor is swimming in chilly water.

Factors of Medicine

Low body temperature is usually caused by something benign, although it can also be caused by diabetes, liver failure, renal failure, or Parkinson’s disease. Infections usually raise a person’s temperature, but in elders, newborns, and tiny toddlers, they might have the reverse effect. People with sepsis, as well as anyone who has ever had a stroke or been in a serious accident, may see lower temperatures on the thermometer.

Other Considerations

Some lifestyle decisions, such as drug or alcohol usage, might affect body temperature. These compounds constrict blood vessels, reducing blood flow and interfering with the body’s capacity to carry out basic functions such as temperature regulation. Some drugs, including opioids, blood pressure meds, anaesthetic, and antipsychotics, can alter one’s internal temperature. Body temperature can be temporarily lowered by eating or drinking cold foods or beverages, as well as by weariness.


While everyone gets cold now and then, hypothermia is a dangerous condition that happens when a person’s temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It has an effect on the heart and other organs, slows down the nervous system, causes respiratory failure, and can even cause death. Each year, 1,300 people in the United States die from hypothermia, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Hypothermia is more common in the elderly, children, newborns, alcoholics, persons who work outside, those who don’t get enough sleep, and homeless people. You won’t have to worry about it if you dress appropriately and avoid unsafe circumstances where you can be exposed to extremely cold water or other hazards.

Low Body Temperature Signs and Symptoms

People who have a lower body temperature may be unaware of it, especially if it is their regular temperature. However, there may be symptoms in rare situations, particularly if their temperature falls below 96 degrees Fahrenheit. Shivering, chattering teeth, inability to warm up, tiredness, clumsiness, and bewilderment are some of the symptoms. Urinate more regularly and become pale. It’s possible that your heart rate will increase, your pulse will weaken, and your breathing will become more fast. If you’re having these symptoms, the best thing to do is go inside and warm up, though prolonged symptoms could indicate a larger problem.

Extremely High Body Temperature

You have a mild fever if your body temperature rises above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. A fever is normally caused by a little sickness, but it can also be caused by drugs, severe trauma, a stroke, a heart attack, burns, hyperthyroidism, certain types of cancer, and arthritis, among other things. Adults normally don’t have problems with fevers unless they reach 103 degrees or are accompanied by other symptoms and disorders.

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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