Postmortem caloricity may (more frequently) be observed in deaths resulting from asphyxia, poisonings (e.g. with datura, alcohol, strychnine), sepsis, bacteraemia, and infectious diseases (yellow fever, rabies, rheumatic fever, cholera, tetanus, smallpox), meningitis, peritonitis, nephritis, brain stem haemorrhages (especially pontine haemorrhages), intracranial injuries, liver abscesses, sunstroke, etc.
Postmortem heat production is caused by biochemical and microbial activity in the dead body. The cause of postmortem caloricity varies depending on the cause of death:
- Postmortem glycogenolysis – a phenomenon beginning soon after death observed in nearly all cadavers. In an average adult, postmortem glycogenolysis can produce up to 140 calories of heat which can raise the temperature of the body by up to 2 °C.
- Bactaeremia, sepsis, and infectious causes – heat production may be attributed to postmortem microbial activity.
- Sunstroke, and pontine haemorrhages – disruption of thermoregulation prior to death.
- Tetanus, and strychnine – heat is produced by muscular contractions.
The corpse may also absorb heat from the environment when environmental temperature exceeds that of the body.
- Sharma, R.K. (2008). Concise Textbook Of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology (2nd ed.). New Delhi: Elsevier. p. 46. ISBN 9788131211458.
- Bardale, Rajesh (November 30, 2011). Principles of forensic medicine and toxicology (1st ed.). New Delhi: Jaypee Brothers Medical Pub. p. 143. ISBN 9789350254936. OCLC 754739806.
- Karmakar, R.N. (December 2015). Forensic Medicine and Toxicology (3rd ed.). Calcutta: Academic Publishers. p. 390. ISBN 9788190908146.
- Biswas, Gautam (July 20, 2012). Review of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology (2nd ed.). New Delhi: Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers Ltd. p. 120. ISBN 9789350258965.
- Modi, Rai Bahadur Jaising P. (1920). A Text-Book of Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology. Calcutta: Medical Publishers. p. 93.