Causes of low body temperature

Causes of low body temperature

Thermoregulation is one of the vital functions of the human body. Thanks to many vital systems, the temperature of a person’s body in a normal state is kept within fairly narrow boundaries, despite the environmental conditions.

The thermoregulation of the human body is divided into chemical and physical. The first of these functions by increasing or decreasing the intensity of metabolic processes. And the processes of physical thermoregulation occur due to heat radiation, heat conduction and evaporation of moisture from the surface of the body.

It is impossible not to list the methods of measuring temperature. Holding a thermometer under our arm, which is widespread in our country, is far from the best option. The fluctuations in the recorded body temperature can differ by a degree from the real one. In the West, in adults, the temperature is measured in the oral cavity, and in children (it is difficult for them to keep their mouth closed for a long time) in the rectum. These methods are much more accurate, although for some reason, for some unknown reason, they have not taken root.

It is widely believed that the normal temperature of a human body is 36.6 degrees Celsius is not correct. Each organism is individual and without the influence of external factors the temperature of the human body can vary between 36.5-37.2 degrees. And now, beyond these boundaries, it is necessary to look for the reasons for this body behavior, since elevated or lowered body temperature is a marker of any problems: diseases, poor functioning of life support systems, external factors.
Also, the normal body temperature of each individual person at a certain point in time also depends on several factors:

  • individual characteristics of the organism;
  • time of day (about six o’clock in the morning in humans, the body temperature is at a minimum level, and at 16 hours at the maximum);
  • human age (in children under three years of age, normal body temperature is often 37.3 -37.4 degrees Celsius, and in older people – 36.2-36.3 degrees);
  • A number of factors that modern medicine has not been fully studied.

And if the state of elevated body temperature is known to the majority, then few people know about its decrease below the regulatory limits, the processes that provoke it and the possible consequences. But such a state is no less dangerous than high temperature, so we will try to talk about the low temperature in as much detail as possible.

Classification of hypothermia

Modern medicine identifies two types of body temperature drop below normal:

  • low body temperature – from 35 to 36.5 degrees;
  • low body temperature – up to 34.9 degrees. This condition in medicine is known by the term hypothermia.

In turn, there are several classifications of hypothermia. The first of them divides this state into three degrees of severity:

    • easy – temperature range 32.2-35 degrees;
    • average – 27-32.1 degrees;
    • heavy – up to 26.9 degrees.

The second divides hypothermia into moderate and severe with a border of 32 degrees. It is this mark in medicine that is considered to be the temperature at which the human body exhausts its ability to self-warm. This classification is considered more convenient from a practical point of view.

According to this classification, with moderate hypothermia, the patient has drowsiness, apathy, trembling, and tachycardia. The level of glucose in the blood rises. In most cases, a warm bed, dry clothes and warm drinks will help to correct the situation. An obligatory examination for moderate hypothermia is an electrocardiogram. Disturbance of thermoregulation processes often leads to problems with the rhythm of the heart.

Severe hypothermia, according to this classification, is an extremely dangerous condition. Lowering the temperature below 32 degrees causes dysfunction of many life support systems. In particular, the functional of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems is disturbed, mental activity and metabolic processes are slowed down.
At the same time, 27 degrees is already considered a critical indicator that can lead to the death of a person. At this temperature, patients develop a coma, the pupils do not react to light. Without emergency medical care and very active warming, there are very few chances to survive in a person.

Although the stories are unique cases when after a long exposure to overcooling (a six-hour stay of a two-year-old Canadian girl in the cold) a person’s body temperature dropped to 14.2 degrees, but he also survived. But it is rather an exception to the rule that hypothermia is an extremely dangerous condition.

Causes of Hypothermia

A significant decrease in body temperature relative to normal values ​​is a direct signal for further examination. And here it is necessary to analyze in detail the reasons that provoke a serious drop in body temperature. In principle, there are many of them and, for convenience, the reasons for low body temperature are divided into three groups:

      • physical conditions of low temperature. Functional failures in the process of thermoregulation lead to excessive heat loss. In most cases, this is due to the dilation of the blood vessels and the duration of such a condition. In particular, hypothermia due to these causes is manifested in people with low blood pressure, who have dilated vessels – a typical condition.
        In addition, endocrine diseases lead to physical hypothermia. And to be more precise – excessive sweating, which violates natural thermoregulation;
      • chemical causes of low body temperature. These include intoxication of the body, weakened immunity, low levels of hemoglobin, emotional and physical strain, the period of pregnancy;
      • behavioral background of low body temperature. This group identifies the causes that are the result of inadequate human perception of the ambient temperature. Often, behavioral hypothermia occurs due to the effects on the body of alcohol and drugs, as well as an unbalanced mental state.

As already noted, each of these groups of hypothetical prerequisites includes quite a few reasons. We denote more specifically the main ones:

Reason Description and Implications
Alcohol and drug poisoning Under the influence of these substances, a person ceases to adequately perceive reality, often without feeling cold. Often in such cases, people may even fall asleep on the street, undergoing a serious hypothermia. In addition, ethanol and opium substances expand vessels and create a deceptive impression of heat, which often leads to critical consequences.
hypothermia Long stay under the influence of low temperatures leads to the fact that the body simply can not cope with the thermoregulation, allowing the temperature to fall below normal. In such conditions, energy is also intensively expended, because of which the time is drastically reduced, during which the body can resist hypothermia.
Viral and bacterial infections Hypothermia during these diseases often occurs when the disease itself is overcome. It is known that up to a certain temperature the body needs to give itself to fight with it. If this also uses antipyretic agents, then eliminating the symptoms of infection, the body’s defense mechanisms continue to work at full power for some time, which leads to a drop in body temperature below normal.
Diets and Fasting For the functioning of thermal control systems, the body needs constant replenishment of its calorie reserves and fat deposits, due to which, in particular, heat conduction and heat transfer are regulated. Insufficient nutrition (forced or planned) leads to violations of this functional and decrease in body temperature.
Sepsis in people with weak immunity and the elderly In most cases, sepsis causes high fever. But in the indicated categories of people one of the manifestations of this disease may be damage to the nervous system, including those of its segments that are responsible for thermoregulation. The temperature of the human body in such circumstances can drop to the level of 34 degrees and requires immediate adjustment.
Incorrect use of medications or procedures (iatrogenic hypothermia) The term iatrogenia is understood to mean the consequences that have arisen due to the wrong actions of medical personnel or due to the incorrect use of medicines. In hypothermia, the causes of this group can be:

  • mistreatment of patients after surgery;
  • excessive use of vasoconstrictor and antipyretic drugs.

Any of these reasons can cause a critical drop in body temperature, so even the most innocuous drugs, which include antipyretic and vasoconstrictor, should be taken only after consulting a doctor.

Ovulation The menstrual cycle in women is often accompanied by abnormal body temperature fluctuations. In most cases, it rises, but there are known cases of lowering the temperature during this period. Often the temperature is 35.5-36.0 degrees, which is not a cause for concern. With the completion of menstruation, the temperature will return to normal.
Wilson Temperature Syndrome This disease is provoked by thyroid dysfunction, which is accompanied by a decrease in body temperature.

Low body temperature during pregnancy

Quite a few doctors have noted a separate reason for the decrease in body temperature: pregnancy . To be more precise, it is not the childbearing itself, but the processes that accompany it. Quite often, future mothers are malnourished due to toxicosis, which affects the metabolic processes and, consequently, the body temperature, which can drop to 36 degrees or even lower. In addition, often in pregnant women there is a weakening of the immune system, against the background of which the temperature may drop. These prerequisites do not bring any serious problems, but at the same time they require an adequate response: normalization of diet and consumption of a sufficient number of calories, as well as work to strengthen the immune system.

Actions at low temperatures

Having recorded a lower body temperature, first of all you need to adequately assess your physical condition. If there is no weakness, you are not afraid and there are no other signs of illness, it is worth remembering whether you have not been ill or supercooled recently. A slight decrease in temperature may be a residual symptom of these causes. In this case, it is not necessary to consult a doctor. It is possible that low temperature is the norm of your body.
You should consult a doctor in the following cases:

      • body temperature is 35 degrees and below even without other symptoms;
      • besides reducing the temperature, weakness, trembling, vomiting and other symptoms unusual for a healthy person are observed. In such cases, even a temperature of 35.7-36.1 is a reason to ask for help;
      • a person has hallucinations, slurred speech, blurred eyes, and loss of consciousness on the background of low temperature.

Any of these symptoms cause immediate medical attention. Even a simple weakness at low temperatures should not be waited at home, as the body can begin irreversible processes, over time which will be very difficult to stop.
Before the doctor arrives, a patient with a reduced temperature should be put in a bed and wrapped in a warm blanket, after making sure that his clothes are dry. Provide complete peace of mind, give a cup of warm sweet tea and, if possible, make a warm foot bath or put a heating pad under your feet. These actions will allow the body to simplify the process of thermoregulation and in most cases the temperature will begin to rise to normal.

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