What does it mean when your temperature goes DOWN?

I’ve been home, sick as a pup all week (finally back to work today—wobbly, but, like a Weeble, I trust I shall not fall down).

Anyway, while I was curled up on the floor feeling sorry for myself, I thought, “Jeez, my temp must be up to 103º, the way I feel,” so I got out the thermom—and it read 96º, much to my chagrin. What the hell did that mean? Was I dead? In shock? Or am I just the chilly bitch everyone accuses me of being?

No, I had not been drinking anything cool, by the way . . .

Eve, I wouldn’t worry too much. My temp always goes down when I’m sick! Glad I’m not the only one. Hope you feel better!

I’ve read that certain types of virus infection can reduce body temperature. I’ll let somebody else research why; I don’t feel so good this morning. Also, normal temperature varies from person to person and by time of day; probably lowest in the morning. Normal body temperature, I think, is now defined as being in a range from about 92 to 99 degrees.

Hmmm. Well, I think mine is usually 98.something-or-other. This was at night and I was feeling particularly awful—chills, hot flashes—which is why I took it in the first place. New digital thermometer; are those things reliable?

I’m gonna go have some ice water . . . Still feel pretty wobbly . . . Hope I don’t have to edit any recipe articles today . . .

I surf a lot in very cold water so I get a dropping temperature a lot. It’s quite alright as long as it doesn’t drop too far. The first thing that lets you know that it’s too far down is that you get amnesia. I think that happens around 92 ; but don’t quote me on that. Thus, if I can’t remember the last wave I took, I usually take that as a hint to get out of the water.

But 96 is okay, youll be fine. Try a cool washrag on your forehead instead of ice.

Hmmm. Thanks, all. I’m back at work today, looking Interestingly Pale. Thing about being really sick when you live alone is, you have the choice between:

• Calling an ambulance or cab and winding up looking like those stupid prats on “Trauma—Life in the ER” who are sitting there with a broken fingernail while other people are wandering in carrying their own decapitated heads, or,

• Lying there on the floor and expiring, so they find you devoured by your cats two months later.

I opted for the “devoured by cats” scenario. How about those digital thermoms? Are they pretty reliable?

—The Ice Queen

They should be. Most hospitals use them now.

I take my temperature every single morning as part of my birth control method (NOTE: I am not trying to start a debate about this here, just explaining why I take my temperature every morning), and my temperature can vary from 96.1 to 98.7, give or take a few tenths of a degree. So unless you happen to know differently, it’s possible that your normal body temp is just a little lower than average.

I don’t know how to break this to you, Eve, but a lot of us experience a temperature drop at Certain Times of the Month, if you know what I mean (don’t want to upset the menfolk), when hormone levels drop. So the good news is you’re probably not dying and the bad news is you’re liable to be a tad grumpy this weekend. Stock up on some chocolate.

If your temperature gets all the way down to room temperature that’s a bad thing, Eve. For you, anyway. Not necessarily for your cats.

My doctor’s office no longer uses digital thermometers – they use the “Thermosensing Ear Gun” or whatever the technical term is. The thing they stick in your ear for a second or two and read your temperature. That device, along with the “Automatic Eye-Scanning Prescription Decider” that my ophthalmologist uses makes me actually believe that some day we will have Star Trek-type medicine where they wave a tricorder over you and diagnose all your ills. “Our sensors show that it’s that time of the month. Let me replicate you some chocolate.”

Sure, at Longs you can get the Ear digital thermoms…Cost about $50.00 though, take one second to work.

I’ve noticed that my temperature is usually slightly below normal if I take it first thing in the A.M.

I was using a regular mercury thermometer, but now I use an $8 digital from Walgreens. You press a button to turn it on, stick it under your tongue, and it beeps when the temperature seems to stabilize. It’s accurate, but with one peculiarity. It beeps a little too early, before the temperature has really stabilized, so I reset it and try again. The retry gives an accurate reading.

At least I don’t have to sprain my wrist to shake the mercury back down to the bulb. And since the last time I had a fever was when I was a kid, that’s a bit of inconvenience I don’t need. But I do get bronchitis twice a year.

Yeah, I have bronchitis now, I sure wish I knew where the bacteria comes from…

Anyway, webmd.com has extensive medical information on any topic…if you ever need any.