Body temperature is an indicator of general health. Despite popular belief, normal body temperature is not 37 degrees Celsius, but may vary by several degrees. Generally, body temperatures taken by ear and measuring 38.3 degrees Celsius or higher are considered above average, and are diagnosed as a fever. Many factors can affect body temperature.
Illness, Disease and Trauma
Fever can be caused by infection or illness; this is the body's way of fighting the infection. Certain diseases, such as arthritis, hyperthyroidism and leukaemia may also cause elevated body temperature.
Alternatively, diabetes and hypothyroidism result in lowered body temperatures. Shock and sepsis may also cause low body temperatures.
According to WebMD, "severe trauma" such as heart attack and stroke may result in fever.
Exposure to extreme heat or cold can change body temperature. Hot weather, especially with high humidity, can result in heat exhaustion and even heat stroke, which elevates temperature to dangerously high levels. Sunburn can also cause fever. Exposure to cold temperatures can result in hypothermia, or a body temperature that is dangerously low.
Female hormone levels also affect body temperature. When a woman is ovulating or menstruating, her body temperature will fluctuate. Women trying to conceive use these changes in body temperature to determine when they are most fertile.
Alcohol, Drugs and Medications
Alcohol and recreational drugs can also change body temperature. In addition, certain prescribed medications will alter normal temperatures. Antibiotics elevate body temperature, while others, such as Tylenol, reduce fever and help to regulate body temperature.
Time of Day
Body temperature is at its lowest point early in the day. As the day progresses, body temperature rises.