Q:

What causes a low body temperature of 96 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit?

A:

Quick Answer

Some causes of slightly lower-than-usual body temperature include infections, heavy alcohol use, and hypothyroidism. Occasional low temperatures are common since body temperature changes throughout the day, the Mayo Clinic says.

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Full Answer

Most people have a body temperature ranging from 97.5 to 98.8 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature can change during the day — for example, body temperature is lower in the morning than in the evening, Mayo Clinic says. However, consistently low body temperature can indicate a number of conditions. Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, contributes to low body temperature and makes patients feel cold. Serious problems, like kidney and liver failure, may cause these low temperatures as well.

Infections can lower body temperature, WebMD says. A large-scale infection, called sepsis, brings down body temperature, but so will some minor infections. This consequence of infections typically affects babies and older adults. A low temperature is not considered serious until it dips below 95 degrees. A body temperature that low indicates hypothermia, which can lead to death if it goes untreated.

Overall, people with a low body temperature that hasn’t reached hypothermia levels should not be concerned unless the condition persists. Minor infections can clear up by themselves. Those who are worried about their low body temperature should see a doctor to find out if a larger problem exists.

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