What is a normal body temperature range?

What is a normal body temperature range?

What is a normal body temperature range?

Normal body temperatures vary depending on many factors, including a person’s age, sex, and activity levels.

The normal body temperature for an adult is around 98.6°F (37°C)Trusted Source, but every person’s baseline body temperature is slightly different, and may consistently be a little higher or lower.

In this article, we discuss the normal ranges of temperature for adults, children, and babies. We also consider factors affecting body temperature, and when to call a doctor.

Normal body temperature chart

Body temperature readings vary depending on where on the body a person takes the measurements. Rectal readings are higher than oral readings, while armpit readings tend to be lower.

The table below gives the normal ranges of body temperature for adults and children according to a thermometer manufacturer:

Type of reading 0–2 years 3–10 years 11–65 years Over 65 years
Oral 95.9–99.5°F (35.5–37.5°C) 95.9–99.5°F (35.5–37.5°C) 97.6–99.6°F (36.4–37.6°C) 96.4–98.5°F (35.8–36.9°C)
Rectal 97.9–100.4°F (36.6–38°C) 97.9–100.4°F (36.6–38°C) 98.6–100.6°F (37.0–38.1°C) 97.1–99.2°F (36.2–37.3°C)
Armpit 94.5–99.1°F (34.7–37.3°C) 96.6–98.0°F (35.9–36.7°C) 95.3–98.4°F (35.2–36.9°C) 96.0–97.4°F (35.6–36.3°C)
Ear 97.5–100.4°F (36.4–38°C) 97.0–100.0°F (36.1–37.8°C) 96.6–99.7°F (35.9–37.6°C) 96.4–99.5°F (35.8–37.5°C)

Normal body temperature readings will vary within these ranges depending on the following factors:

  • a person’s age and sex
  • the time of day, typically being lowest in the early morning and highest in the late afternoon
  • high or low activity levels
  • food and fluid intake
  • for females, the stage in their monthly menstrual cycle
  • the method of measurement, such as oral (mouth), rectal (bottom), or armpit readings
Person holding thermometer for measuring body temperatureShare on Pinterest
A body temperature over 100.4°F (38°C) in adults indicates a fever.

A normal adult body temperature, when taken orally, can range from 97.6–99.6°F, though different sources may give slightly different figures.

In adults, the following temperatures suggest thatTrusted Source someone has a fever:

  • at least 100.4°F (38°C) is a fever
  • above 103.1°F (39.5°C) is a high fever
  • above 105.8°F (41°C) is a very high fever

Researchers have looked into the individual differences between people’s normal body temperatures. A studyTrusted Source looking at almost 35,500 people found that older adults had the lowest temperatures, and African-American women had higher temperatures than white men.

They also found that certain medical conditions can affect a person’s body temperature. For example, people with an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) tended to have lower temperatures, while people with cancer had higher temperatures.

Normal temperature in children

A normal body temperature for children aged 3–10 ranges from 95.9–99.5°F when taken orally.

Children tend to have similar body temperatures to adults.

Normal temperature in babies

Sometimes, babies and young children have higher body temperature ranges than adults for armpit and ear measurements.

A normal body temperature for infants aged 0–2 years ranges from 97.9–100.4°F when taken rectally. Body temperature may rise a little when a baby is teething.

The average body temperature of a newborn is 99.5°FTrusted Source.

A baby’s temperature is higher because they have a larger body surface area relative to their body weight. Their bodies are also more metabolically active, which generates heat.

Babies’ bodies do not regulate temperature as well as adults’ bodies. They sweat less when it is warm, meaning that their bodies retain more heat. It may also be more difficult for them to cool them down during a fever.

Medically reviewed by Stacy Sampson, D.O. — Written by Rachel Nall, MSN, CRNA on January 18, 2020

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