Fever measurement in low resting temperature?
February 6, 2020 3:29 PM   Subscribe

What counts as a fever if your normal healthy baseline temperature is 35C/95F? My main doc has documented this as a quirk, but it makes home temperature taking a guess. If I feel feverish at 36.5C, is that the equivalent to a ‘normal’ 38.7C fever?
posted by dorothyisunderwood to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
And no, I am not a zombie as has previously been suggested. I just have a delightfully quirky body.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 3:30 PM on February 6

Hello, fellow zombie! I mean, fellow quirky-bodied person!

My normal body temp is around 95-96F. I start feeling puny at about 97-98F and really gross at 99F. I'm fortunate to have a doctor who has also documented this and believes me, so she tells me that I should consider myself feverish when I hit 98F and to take anything over 100F as Quite Serious.
posted by cooker girl at 4:51 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]

I read an article somewhere that human body temp may be averaging downward, and that it makes sense to calculate a fever based on your personal baseline.

My body temp baseline is lowish, and I feel really gross at temps not considered very high. Same with my kiddo.
posted by moira at 5:39 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]

Yeah I have a lower baseline temp of about 97 and I am more or less dying at 100. I've endured a 103 degree fever but I don't recommend it.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:42 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]

Oh, I'm just remembering though: regardless of my kid's baseline, every fever-related call to a nurse resulted in the standard temp recommendations for when to start administering meds or taking kiddo in to be seen. This was within the last decade(ish).
posted by moira at 5:54 PM on February 6

I don't know how to advise you, but I do sympathize. My Epic records must show a very consistent 96-97, and when I get above 98 at all, it is because I do not feel well at all. Yet if I go to an urgent care place, even when they can see my Epic records, it's still "normal".

So I don't know what to say when they ask "have you had a fever".
posted by Dashy at 10:04 PM on February 6

Medicine does not deal especially well with individual idiosyncrasy. As I kid I remember that 98.6F / 37C was considered normal, 99F was the beginnings of a fever, and 100F was full on "stay at home and sleep". But my baseline is a full degree F below "normal". I have been told that you can have a cold without having a fever, but I wonder if really what's going on is that 99F for me is like 100F for someone with a "normal" baseline.
posted by wnissen at 9:36 AM on February 7

Where and how are you people taking your temperature? Technically the 37C "normal" and 38C "fever" comes from rectal temp. Under the tongue is probably most common for home use, but it can be affected significantly by respiratory rate -- you breathe imperceptibly faster when you have a fever. I've also seen people taken a temp by putting the thermometer in the armpit (more sanitary, I guess?) or with those little wands you wave in the vague direction of someone's forehead (I can't). Those are basically bogus.

I also trust digital meters a lot less than I trust mercury -- not that I want a lot of mercury floating around, but digital thermometers are consistently about 0.5C less than mercury, and there may be additional variance depending on manufacturer/quality control.

tl;dr Unless you are taking a rectal temp with a mercury thermometer every time (I do not recommend this!) just go with your symptoms rather than a fever threshold.
posted by basalganglia at 4:51 PM on February 7

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