When checking for fever, remember 98.6 is no longer the norm

As more people check their body temperature amid the coronavirus pandemic, it's important that they understand that the average human body temperature has dropped in the U.S.

According to study published in January in eLife, the average body temperature has decreased since German physician Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich established the standard human body temperature as 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit in 1851. 

The study found that the body temperature of men born in the 2000s is on average 1.06 degrees Fahrenheit lower than that of men born in the early 1800s, and among women, average body temperature of those born in the 2000s is on average 0.58 degrees Fahrenheit lower than that of women born in the 1890s.

"People are stuck on the 98.6 number, but that number has always been wrong," Julie Parsonnet, MD, study author and professor of medicine and of health research and policy at Stanford (Calif.) Medicine told the Seattle Times. "There's never been a real number because people vary."

More articles on public health:
US coronavirus cases near 4,000; White House boosts nation's testing capacity
5 tips on talking to patients about coronavirus, from NIH Director Dr. Anthony Fauci
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