Is Low Body Temperature a Concern?

    A normal human body temperature is on average 98.6 F (37 C) orally. The normal range can be as low as 97.5 and as high as 98.8 F (36.4 to 37.1 C). The body temperature is considered dangerously low when it's below 95 F (35 C). There are some people with average temperatures in the 96 F range who are fine.

    Mild reductions in body temperature are often temporary and don't indicate a serious problem or condition. For example, your temperature normally is lower in the morning than in the evening, when you are inactive as compared to being active.

    The most common cause of a lower-than-normal body temperature is exposure to cold. But occasionally, a low body temperature can indicate an underlying problem or condition, such as:

    • Inactivity
    • Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
    • Diabetes
    • Adrenal gland insufficiency (Addison's disease)
    • Hypothalamus dysfunction
    • Liver failure
    • Kidney failure
    • Widespread infection (sepsis)
    • Excessive use of alcohol or illicit drugs
    • A side effect of certain medications, such as phenothiazines, barbiturates, opiates, clonidine, lithium and benzodiazepines
    • Cold exposure
    • Alcohol consumption (see Alcohol use)
    • Hypoglycaemia
    • Impaired shivering capacity in elderly
    • Myxoedema
    • Starvation
    • Malnutrition
    • Hypopituitarism
    • Exposure to cold outdoors
    • Immersion in cold water
    • Vasoconstriction failure
    • Dwashiorkor
    • Erythrodema
    • Paget's disease of bone
    • Uremia
    • Cerebrovascular injury (see Cerebrovascular symptoms)
    • Cerebral trauma
    • Diabetic ketoacidosis
    • Wernicke's encephalopathy
    • Carbon monoxide poisoning
    • Anoxic brain injury
    • Cardiac arrest
    • Organophosphate poisoning
    • Spinal cord lesion
    • Terminal malignant disease
    • Severe hepatic cirrhosis

    If you have a low body temperature and feel it could be a problem you may want to consult your doctor.