The novel coronavirus pandemic has many including daily temperature readings in their routines. With COVID-19 tests not easily accessible, checking symptoms at home has become vital. A fever is one of the most common symptoms reported, along with coughing and shortness of breath. When conducting a temperature check for coronavirus, there are things to keep in mind.
98.6 Degrees Isn’t “Normal”
If you check your temperature and it isn’t the 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit that many refer to as normal, curb your worries. The number came from the mid-1800s, when German physician Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich set the standard. While it’s been the basis for many temperature checks, over two dozen studies have disputed Wunderlich’s findings and discovered a new, much lower average body temperature.
According to a study from Stanford University, the new average body temperature is 97.5 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this measurement isn’t official.
Body temperature varies according to multiple factors such as age, gender, time of day and physical activity. Temperature also varies by the area of the body checked — some people use forehead scans, others use a thermometer under the arm or rectally, while most choose to measure under the tongue — when taking one’s temperature.
Accurate Temperature Checks
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people who have potentially been exposed to COVID-19 take their temperature twice every day. Why take temperature twice a day?
Body temperature usually fluctuates throughout the day. People typically run cooler in the morning and their temperature peaks in the evening. Doing temperature checks at both times allows you to get a more accurate sense of your own average body temperature.
Dr. Leigh Vinocour, a Maryland-based physician and spokeswoman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, spoke to the New York Times to caution those who use oral thermometers. For those taking their temperatures, wait a little bit if you’ve just consumed something either hotter or colder than room temperature (hot coffee or tea, ice cream).
Generally, a temperature of 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit or higher is an indicator of a fever.
Just like hand sanitizer, toilet paper and other household items, it may be hard to find a thermometer (especially an affordable option) depending on your location. A specific temperature is just one of many fever indicators that you can tune into. Alternating chills and sweats and body aches are also signs you can keep watch over when monitoring a possible fever.