Low temperature in a child: 7 possible reasons


The information in this section should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. In case of pain or other exacerbation of the disease, only the attending physician should prescribe diagnostic tests. For diagnosis and proper treatment, you should contact your doctor.
For a correct assessment of the results of your analyzes in dynamics, it is preferable to do studies in the same laboratory, since different laboratories may use different research methods and units of measurement to perform the same analyzes.Low body temperature: causes of occurrence, in which diseases it occurs, diagnosis and methods of treatment.


Decreased body temperature, or hypothermia, is a violation of heat metabolism, manifested by a decrease in body temperature against the background of exposure to low temperatures and / or a decrease in heat production and an increase in its return.

There are several mechanisms for active heat production.

Mandatory heat production – heat produced as a result of normal physiological and metabolic processes. It is enough to maintain normal body temperature in a comfortable ambient temperature.

Additional heat production is activated when the ambient temperature drops and includes:

  • non- shivering thermogenesis , which is carried out by splitting brown fat. Brown fat is present in large quantities in newborns and protects them from hypothermia. In adults, it is small, it is localized in the neck, between the shoulder blades, near the kidneys;
  • contractile thermogenesis , which is based on muscle contraction.

When the body is hypothermic, the tone (tension) of the muscles increases and involuntary muscle tremors appear.Passive heat retention is carried out with the help of subcutaneous adipose tissue.

The rate of metabolic processes and adaptation reactions is influenced by adrenal and thyroid hormones, and the thermoregulation center is located in the hypothalamus.For a person, the comfort zone is considered to be the air temperature range from +18°C to +22°C, subject to the presence of light clothing and normal physical activity.Distinguish between the central body temperature (maintained in the internal organs and central vessels at the level of 36.1–38.2 ° C) and the temperature of peripheral tissues (limbs, body surface) – normally it is lower than the central temperature by tenths of a degree.The central body temperature is measured in the rectum, external auditory canal, in the mouth. In the conditions of a medical institution, it is possible to measure the temperature in the lumen of the esophagus, in the nasopharynx, in the bladder. Peripheral temperature can be measured on the forehead or in the armpits.In general, body temperature indicators are individual and for each localization have their own normal range. Body temperature changes throughout the day. Small children, due to the intensity of metabolic processes, have a higher standard of normal temperature. The metabolism of older people is slowed down, the temperature of the internal environment can normally be at the level of 34-35°C.

Varieties of low temperature A decrease in

temperature can be endogenous (with pathology of internal organs and imperfect thermogenesis) and exogenous (depending on environmental conditions).

Exogenous hypothermia is referred to as exogenous hypothermia. Its task is to reduce the functional activity and metabolism in organs and tissues in order to increase their resistance to oxygen deficiency. It is used in the form of general controlled hypothermia, when there is a need for a temporary slowdown in blood circulation; and local controlled hypothermia of individual organs and tissues.

Medical hypothermia is used during open operations on the heart and large vessels, with ischemic stroke, injuries of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), with severe oxygen starvation of newborns.The severity of a person’s condition is assessed by the level of decrease in the central temperature and clinical manifestations.At a low temperature (36.5–35 ° C), a person can feel quite well. From this it follows that she is a variant of the norm for him. If a person feels unwell, it is necessary to look for the cause of a decrease in temperature.

Body temperature below 35°C is considered low.

Allocate low temperature:

  • mild severity (35.0–32.2 ° C) , in which drowsiness, increased respiration, heart rate, chills are observed;
  • moderate severity (32.1–27 ° C) – a person may become delirious, breathing slows down, the heartbeat slows down, reflexes decrease (reaction to an external stimulus);
  • severe severity (below 27 ° C) – a person is in an extreme degree of depression of consciousness (in a coma), blood pressure is reduced, there are no reflexes, deep breathing disorders, heart rhythm are noted, the balance of the internal environment of the body and all metabolic processes are disturbed.

13 Possible causes of low temperature at adults

Possible causes of hypothermia include:

  1. damage to the central nervous system;
  2. decrease in muscle mass;
  3. physical fatigue;
  4. decrease in the rate of metabolic processes;
  5. pregnancy;
  6. the period of convalescence after a protracted illness;
  7. dysregulation of vascular tone;
  8. various intoxications, including alcohol;
  9. exposure to medications, including an overdose of antipyretic drugs;
  10. intravenous infusion of large volumes of unheated solutions;
  11. hypothermia in conditions of low air temperature;
  12. prolonged exposure to wet or damp clothing;
  13. long stay in cold water, on cold objects, etc.

All of the above factors can lead to a violation of thermoregulation, a decrease in heat production, and an increase in heat loss.

What diseases cause low temperature?

Body temperature can decrease with paresis and paralysis of muscles and / or a decrease in their mass that occurs with diseases (syringomyelia) and injuries of the spinal cord, with damage to the nerve fibers that innervate the muscles, calcium deficiency, hereditary diseases (Erb-Roth myodystrophy, Duchenne).

Metabolic slowdown occurs with chronic insufficient function of the adrenal glands (for example, with autoimmune processes) and the thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), diffuse diseases of the liver, kidneys, with a significant decrease in glucose levels (hypoglycemia), with reduced hemoglobin and / or a decrease in the number of red blood cells (anemia) , with malnutrition, severe malnutrition (cachexia) and thinning of subcutaneous fatty tissue.

Violation of thermoregulation is noted with traumatic, drug or toxic effects on the hypothalamus.

Hypothermia can occur with extensive multiple trauma or during a systemic infectious process (sepsis).

Which doctors should I contact with low body temperature?

To save a person with severe hypothermia, an ambulance call is required.If a person has recorded a decrease in body temperature by 1–2 ° C relative to their individual norm, this condition persists for a long time and is not associated with hypothermia, you should consult with a therapist , and if necessary, with a neurologist , endocrinologist .

Diagnostics and examinations at low body temperature

Diagnosis at low body temperature consists in examining and questioning the patient, measuring body temperature and blood pressure, assessing blood oxygen saturation (pulse oximetry, blood gas testing).

To identify violations in the work of organs and systems, the laboratory and instrumental studies can be prescribed.

What to do at low temperatures?

With mild hypothermia, it is necessary to warm up as soon as possible – for this you should move to a warm room, get rid of wet and cold clothes, dress in dry and warm clothes and drink a warm non-alcoholic drink.

All other cases of hypothermia require medical attention.

Treatment for low body temperature

If it is established that a decrease in body temperature is a variant of the norm and does not bother the patient, no treatment is required.In other cases, the treatment of the underlying disease and the correction of metabolic processes are carried out.In case of hypothermia, measures are taken to stop the effect of the cooling factor and proceed to warming. Passive warming includes moving a person to a warm room, wrapping in warm clothes, drinking warm liquids, which is advisable for mild hypothermia and intact consciousness.

Active external warming is used for severe hypothermia, is carried out in a specialized medical institution by doctors and includes inhalation of warm oxygen through a mask or endotracheal tube, intravenous infusion of warm solutions, lavage of the stomach, intestines, bladder with warm solutions.

Active internal rewarming is performed using an external circulatory apparatus with control of vital body functions and correction of fluid and glucose balance. In addition, drugs are used to increase pressure and eliminate arrhythmias.

7 possible reasons of Low temperature in a child

n case of a high child, there is always an antipyretic in the home medicine cabinet: the algorithm of actions is more than memorized by each parent from the first day the baby is born. But when the baby, on the contrary, is too cold, it is difficult not to get confused. An incomprehensible symptom causes terrible fears and terrifying thoughts. What could be the reasons for this condition and, most importantly, how to help the child in this situation? We tell below.

First of all, we must understand what we call low temperature. If we are talking about a child up to a year, and even more so, the first three months of life, then the normal temperature for such a crumb can range from 35.5 to 37.5. And there are children for whom, in principle, the temperature in this range is considered normal, such are the features of the body.

To determine the level of your child’s normal body temperature, it is enough to measure it several times on different days, but it is imperative that the child feels good and there is no physical activity a few hours before the measurement – running, walking, exercising, etc. The temperature of 36.6 is a conditional indicator and you should not focus on it so much. Each child is individual. And if you took your child’s temperature only when he was sick, then it’s time to determine its normal level.

The temperature of a sleeping child: is it worth waking up

If the child’s normal temperature level is within 36-37, and your baby’s thermometer is 35-35.5, then you should not panic either: hypothermia itself (this is what a person’s low body temperature is called in scientific medicine) does not pose a critical danger for the body, although it may indicate some problems. If the condition lasts for several days, you should consult a doctor! Consider the possible causes of low temperatures.

Reason 1: Taking antipyretics

It happens that a child suffers from viral or bacterial infections with an accompanying high temperature. It is clear that in such a situation, parents bring down the temperature of the child with medication. If you bring down the temperature for three days in a row (and it is contraindicated for longer: it is written in the instructions for antipyretics), how long the temperature usually lasts with the usual clinical picture of a cold, then on the third day there may be a decrease in temperature, which can also often be accompanied by diarrhea. This condition does not require third-party intervention, because very soon the temperature will return to normal.

When a child is sick and this is accompanied by a high temperature, then often there is a crisis after this and the temperature drops. But it does not decrease to the norm, but a little lower. Moreover, this rule is true both for those who took antipyretic, and for those who did not resort to this. But do not panic – gradually the temperature will return to normal. People call this “failure”, but it is not scary and does not threaten health in any way. This is normal physiology. You know that if a person was actively on a strict diet, lost weight, and then returned to a regular diet, then he most often gains more than he lost. The same principle works here.

Reason 2: Vitamin deficiency

Most often, a low temperature is observed in children with iron deficiency anemia, so a simple general blood test and a doctor’s consultation will not interfere. Depending on the degree of anemia, sometimes the lack of iron in the blood can be compensated for by a special diet, sometimes with the help of iron supplements.

But in other cases, parents should not worry about a vitamin deficiency in a baby. If your child does not eat exclusively fast food, his diet contains cereals, and vegetables, and fruits, and meat, then he definitely has everything in order with vitamins.

5 pardons, how to give moms, if a child has a temperature

But parents of teenagers (especially girls) also need to be on the alert: if a child tries to lose weight on his own with the help of newfangled diets, then he can reach exhaustion (even worse – bulimia), in such cases, low temperature is more than expected.

Reason 3: Decreased thyroid function

This is one of the really most common causes of a decrease in body temperature, and not only in children. In other words, it is a disease in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. Most often, this disease is provoked by iodine deficiency. If, in addition to a reduced temperature, the child also has pallor, dark circles under the eyes, swelling of the legs, you should immediately contact a specialist.

Reason 4: Immune problems

A short-term decrease in temperature may occur after a recent serious illness. Impact on the immune system, such as vaccination or licking dirty hands (which is also the strongest effect on the immune system) can also be a cause. If the child’s immune system has any pathologies (immunodeficiency states), the low temperature may not rise for quite a long time, in any case, if this is the case, a doctor’s consultation is required.

Reason 5: Dehydration

This is a very dangerous condition that can lead to dire consequences. Most often it can be caused by an acute intestinal infection. And if, with a slight dehydration, the body temperature, as a rule, rises, then with a strong one, it drops very much.

Unfortunately, parents very often pay attention to the wrong symptoms and can measure the temperature hourly when it is elevated, but they are calm about the fact that it is lowered. But the diseases indicated by this sign, for example, such as dehydration, are much worse than a cold or SARS.

Reason 6: Poisoning

Although more often the temperature rises from poisoning, it happens and vice versa. Trembling hands, fever (chills) are the accompanying symptoms of such poisoning. Moreover, the toxin that caused such a reaction was not necessarily eaten, perhaps the child inhaled something dangerous.

Reason 7: Stress and fatigue

This is most often the case with schoolchildren, especially teenagers. Excessive intellectual and emotional stress, stress and fatigue can provoke a drop in temperature. These reasons should not be underestimated, as they can provoke more serious disorders in the body than hypothermia.

To stress and fatigue, I would add such a reason as lack of sleep. Compared to the first two reasons, this is one of the most common among children, and especially schoolchildren, who work on homework until midnight. It should be borne in mind that children adapt much better than adults to various situations, including stressful ones. And if the child really experiences such severe stress that it manifests itself in physiological changes, then a trip to a specialist should be planned immediately.

How to help a child with a low temperature

If the condition is short-term, it is necessary to help warm up. Warm drinks, warm clothes, a heating pad will do for this purpose. If the temperature is kept below normal for a long time, then, of course, it is not worth heating, but it is necessary to look for the cause.

If nothing bothers the child, if the only symptom is a drop in temperature, which worries the mother and grandmother the most, then the child does not need to be treated. If the child is active, cheerful and joyful, then it is better for the mother to drink a sedative and not worry much about this. But most often, a low temperature is a symptom of some kind of disease, and in this case, you need to contact a specialist. It is important to understand that it is the cause that needs to be treated, because a low temperature is most often a consequence.

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