Why does body temperature decrease as we age and how does this affect our health?

  • André Biernath
  • BBC News Brazil

An elderly lady takes her temperature

image source, Getty Images

It’s not that older people have a lower temperature. But because they naturally have a “cooler” body, elevated body temperature is often not taken as a symptom of something more serious in this age group.

And that is that, what happens is that as we age, the average body temperature tends go down. The difference can be up to 1ºC compared to adults and adolescents.

In other words: if an elderly person normally has a temperature of 36ºC, and on a certain day it goes up to 37.1ºC, this can already represent a febrile condition, even if the youngest person is only diagnosed with a fever of around 38ºC.

This confusion, in turn, can make it difficult and delay the diagnosis of common or more serious diseases the sixth decade life, such as urinary tract infections and pneumonia.

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