When you get sick, your immune system has a lot of strategies it can deploy to help you heal. All of this action requires a lot of energy and usually shows up as signs of strain in your body that you can read through your body temperature, heart activity, respiration, and sleep or activity patterns.

If you’re concerned and feel like you’re getting sick, keep an eye out for these four signs of strain. You’ll find these metrics in the Readiness tab on the Oura App. Remember to compare them to your normal baseline.

1. Increase in Body Temperature Trends

As part of your immune system powering up to fight infection, your body usually raises an inflammatory response. Inflammation does exactly what it sounds like—“flame”—it heats your body up. Severe infections can even turn up the heat enough that your body generates a fever. 

An individual’s body temperature typically changes by about 1 °C (1.8 °F)  between its highest and lowest points each day. Anything outside of that range signals that something is challenging your body and preventing it from maintaining your ideal temperature range. Keep in mind that internal changes (e.g., a fever) or external changes (e.g., a warm bedroom) can both cause temperature changes. 

2. Increase in Respiratory Rate

If a respiratory infection or cough is challenging your system, you may see an elevated respiratory rate in your Oura App. A typical respiratory rate for healthy adults is 12–20 breaths per minute. Keep in mind that hormone cycles can also impact your respiration, and illness may cause your rate to remain relatively high for some time after the actual symptoms have disappeared— letting you know your body is still recovering. Read more about what can impact respiration here.

3. Increase in Resting Heart Rate or Decrease in Heart Rate Variability

As your body fights an illness, it engages your sympathetic, fight-or-flight nervous system. This activity increases your resting heart rate and decreases your heart rate variability

4. Changes in Sleep or Activity

If your body is prioritizing rest, it’s natural to spend more time in bed for your body to recover. You may engage in lower amounts of activity or notice that your body shows patterns of prioritizing deep sleep, which is the most physically restorative sleep stage. 

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How Members Use Their Oura Data to Identify Early Signs of Sickness

The Oura Ring is not a medical device, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, monitor, or prevent medical conditions or illnesses. The following are true stories taken from members who chose to share their experiences with us.

Jonas Saves Thanksgiving

Jonas was getting ready for Thanksgiving with his family in 2019.

Jonas routinely checks his app in the morning and his body temperature trend showed a spike above his normal. When he looked back, he saw it had been trending upward for a week. Feeling unwell, and knowing his household was battling a cold, he decided it was time to take action. He went to his doctor, showed him his Oura data, and as a result they made an informed decision to give Jonas medication.

“After the medicine kicked in, and my temperature looked healthy after a few days, I saw my family, and no one got sick.”

Mary Fights The Flu

Over the holidays, Mary was busy with travel and social events. Somehow, an illness made its way into her busy schedule. After looking at her Oura data, which showed elevated body temperature trends, lower HRV, and higher respiratory rates, Mary decided to seek help from her doctor. There it was confirmed she had the flu.

As she slowly recovered. Mary felt comforted by being able to track her recovery in her data as well, showing signs that her body was gradually returning to her baseline.

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