DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 55-year-old, active female. My body temperature is consistently 95-96 F. Also, my blood pressure seems to be going down each time I visit the doctor. At my most recent visit (two days ago), it was 96 over 67. The nurse tells me it is fine, but I am not comfortable with these readings. I do get light-headed on occasion, and I fainted once. I have a normal diet and am slightly overweight for my height. I exercise regularly (high-level tennis three times per week, and walk 18 holes of golf) but get out of breath climbing stairs or going uphill. Could you please comment on this?
(I had my husband check his temperature, because I thought the thermometer was broken. He was 99.2, so I checked mine again, and it was 95.3).
Thanks for any information you can provide. — K.L.
ANSWER: Although we were all taught that 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) is the “normal” body temperature, most people average 98.2, with temperatures lower in the morning and higher in the evening. Still, 95 degrees is not normal.
Similarly, a blood pressure of 96/67 may be normal for some people. Putting these two findings together with getting out of breath on exercise, I am concerned about low thyroid levels, and other rare conditions, especially low cortisone (Addison’s disease). These conditions easily can be tested for, but the hard part is suspecting the diagnosis. While it may be likely that these are unrelated and are all normal for you, they are not quite normal, and together raise my suspicion enough to recommend that you discuss further testing with your doctor.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have an eye question. I am 84, and I have mild hemorrhages in my left eye. My doctor said this is due to old age, and to just wait and see if it gets worse. He did say that it could indicate a prelude to a brain stroke-type hemorrhage.