Our body is prepared to function best in mild temperatures, that is, neither excessively hot nor excessively cold. For this reason, when the temperature drops, different parts of the human body come into action to ensure that the metabolism and other functions essential to life remain functioning. Understand how this happens.
What happens when body temperature drops?
If the body temperature of a human being falls below the minimum, a series of chemical reactions are initiated in order to avoid hypothermia, which is the sharp drop in temperature below 35 °C.
All the functions of the human body, such as metabolism and chemical activities in the brain, are harmed and may stop working. As a result of this, sensors spread all over the torso are activated, functioning as an alert.
The shivering that we can perceive is the responsibility of a muscle present on the surface of the skin, which contracts with the cold and raises the hair. This is an important movement since the set of shivering hairs creates a layer of air in order to preserve body heat.
What is the ideal human body temperature?
The conventional body temperature averages 37°C, but this figure is more of a reference than an exact value. When we talk about the human being prepared to live in balanced temperatures, one of the parameters is the years of analysis of the body’s behavior to different measures of heat and cold.
Under normal conditions, the measure varies throughout the day, something around 0.5 °C more or less. Sleep, metabolism, physical activities and the time of day have an impact on the number measured by thermometers; for this reason, the ideal is to think in terms of body temperature range.
Roughly speaking, the normal torso temperature stays within the following averages, varying according to age group:
- babies and children up to 10 years old – from 35.5 °C to 37.5 °C;
- people from 11 years old to 65 years old – from 36.4 °C to 37.6 °C;
- over 65 years old – from 35.8 °C to 36.9 °C.
What are the impacts caused by very low temperatures?
When winter is intense, and body temperatures start to drop, besides the contraction of muscles and the decrease in the release of sweat, the body suffers many impacts. One of the most dangerous is dehydration, since we ingest less water because we lose less liquid, the skin tends to dry out and the kidneys are harmed, as well as the elimination of toxins.
Besides, infections increase, since viruses and bacteria remain suspended in the air for longer, increasing the predisposition to the transmission of flu, pneumonia, asthma, otitis and sinusitis. The eyes also become dry due to the faster evaporation of tears, and blood circulation is affected.
Last but not least, the drop in body temperature can affect the pineal gland, responsible for the cycle of wakefulness and sleep. The malfunctioning of this gland disrupts sleep, leading affected individuals to sleep more and produce less hormones.