Have You Heard – 98.6 is Not Normal

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We were swapping stories of the different techniques that we used to try and get a day off from school back in the day at Security Self Storage in Napa, CA and we determined that we were nowhere near the level of sophistication of our teen hero, Ferris Bueller. The one time that I was able to pull off the trick-the-parent-with-a-fake-sickness, I went for the fake fever, holding the thermometer in a cup of boiling water – heated in the microwave. Of course, with my slick moves, I didn’t think that the thermometer would be hotter than expected and burnt my tongue in the process. Yikes! 

New data suggests that body temperatures are falling 

For years, I’ve known that my “normal” temperature was below the magic 98.6-degree mark, meaning that while most doctor’s offices (and school nurses) consider a fever as a body temperature of 100.4 degrees, I rarely have run a fever that high. Typically, my temperature is 97.4 degrees, so by extrapolation of a few degrees above normal, a fever for me would be at about 99.4-ish.  

Come to find out, there has been a shift downwards of the measurement of normal body temperatures, which can be attributed to better health and more accurate measurements with better thermometers. As people’s general health improves, the amount of inflammation in the body decreases as does the immune response which, in turn, increases one’s internal body temperature.  


Wide variety of instruments 

Growing up, there were two choices for thermometers – the blue kind and the red (gasp) kind. I don’t recall the last time I saw a glass thermometer, do you? Digital varieties have taken over the market. One can purchase traditional digital thermometers, tympanic (ear) thermometers, or temporal (forehead) thermometers. Each of them has pros and cons, discussed thoroughly by the Mayo Clinic. (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fever/in-depth/thermometers/art-20046737) 

Special circumstance – infants up to three months old 

Much of the concern about thermometers is for use for infants three months of age or younger, when fevers can be quite serious. For this age, using a digital thermometer and a plastic sheath to take the temperature rectally is generally considered the optimum. Although, new studies suggest that temporal thermometers may be accurate in a young infant. New parents should consult with their pediatrician about options to measure their child’s temperature. 

Proper use is key, no matter which thermometer that you have in your medicine cabinet. 

Of course, using one of these devices makes it harder to fake the fever, as reminded by my associates. If you have any fun stories about your attempt at being Ferris Bueller, stop in and see us at Security Self Storage in Napa, we’d love to hear them! 

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