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Taking The Temperature of COVID-19: a PSA

Taking The Temperature of COVID-19: a PSA

by Paul Kiernan March 25, 2020
Inside the Lab

 

We here at ThoughtLab are doing our part to contain the spread of COVID-19, the current coronavirus. With that, we are working in geographically diverse spaces, which is a fancy way to say we’re working from our respective homes, but, we are working. We are up and running and taking care of all your needs. We hope you’re being safe and taking care of friends, family, and loved ones. We care about your health and safety so we offer this PSA during this time of crisis.

 

COVID-19

There are three major symptoms that the CDC is telling people to be aware of that will give some indication that you may have the coronavirus. These are: cough, fever and difficulty breathing. 

The cough is obvious, you know when you’re coughing. As for difficulty breathing they are suggesting that if you are having trouble getting a full breath of air when you’re sitting, doing nothing, it’s probably time to call a doctor or even 911. 

If you’re having difficulty breathing when you’re exercising or moving about, you may have a mild case of COVID-19 and it’s still a good idea to consult a medical professional.

Use online doctors and medical sites if you feel your have symptoms but they are mild. Going into a doctor’s office or a hospital should be a step taken only if your symptoms are serious and you have a pre-existing condition that might exacerbate the disease. Less contact with other people means less chance of spreading the virus.

 

Third Symptom

The third symptom the CDC says to be aware of is a fever or high temperature.

No matter what you go to a doctor’s office for, one of the first things they do is check your temperature.  A normal body temperature means your body is running along nicely. A higher temperature can indicate that you have a fever and that your body is fighting an infection, like COVID-19.

The problem here is, what is normal body temperature?

 

Normal Body Temperature

The idea of normal body temperature was first recorded in 1871 by the German physician, pioneer psychiatrist and medical professor, Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich. And the temperature he determined as normal was 98.8 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius.

Doctor Wunderlich came to this number by taking millions of readings from 25,000 German patients by sticking a thermometer under their arm. Doctors in the US and Europe followed his example and came up with the same number so, normal human body temperature was determined to be 98.7. And so it has been for a long, long time.

 

New Study

In early January of 2020, a paper was published in eLife written by researchers at Stanford University. The paper posits that normal human body temperature has dropped since Dr.Wunderlich’s first study.

The team analyzed data from three large data resources involving more than 667,000 temperature readings from nearly 190,000 people. The data was collected from the period between 1862 and 2017. Researchers found that the temperatures in the early database, from Union Army Veterans, was higher than each of the latter two periods.

The average temperature had dropped by 0.03 degrees C and 0.029 degrees C for men and women, respectively, over a 150-year span.

The researchers say that it actually makes sense as we have grown in height and weight over time. Getting taller and heavier has a definite effect on body temperature.

Another important factor in the change is the fact that we’ve developed treatments for infectious diseases and we have gotten rid of many inflammatory conditions that people had such as tuberculosis, syphilis, periodontal disease, wounds that didn’t heal, dysentery, diarrhea—with antibiotics and vaccines.

The findings support the idea of moving away from using universal “normal” temperature and towards a more personalized temperature that takes into account the many factors that can influence the measurement: height, weight, age, time of day and outside temperature.

For those who are curious, this is a good chart to follow and some answers about body temperature.

 

Taking Your Temperature

The CDC recommends that you take your temperature two times a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.

The old, reliable, hold this under your tongue, mercury thermometer is not your best bet in times like these. The readings can be doubtful and oftentimes inaccurate. One of the best types of thermometers on the market right now takes the body temperature at the temporal artery. This gives the most accurate and immediate reading of your body’s true temperature. 

For those needing a new or a more updated thermometer here is a list of the best one on the market for home use and for all members of the family.

There are apps for your phone that claim to take your temperature accurately. As a public service, we had our copywriter try one of those … it was rectal … he still cannot be reached by phone.

Taking your temperature is important for any time you feel sick but, right now, during this pandemic, it’s vital that you know. It will help you make the choice to go to the grocery store or stay at home because you may be spreading this thing.

Stay safe, take precautions and take care of each other. We here at ThoughtLab want you around for a long, healthy time.

 

Next: Love, and Quarantine, in the Time of Coronavirus