How long after a person dies does the body start to decompose?

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How long after a person dies does the body start to decompose?

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Immediately after we die decomposition changes begin that manifest themselves at different times: the body is noted to stiffen – rigor mortis – within two hours because waste products such as carbon dioxide and urea produced by muscle cells are not removed by the blood stream; the red blood cells settle downward causing the maroon color of death – livor mortis – which is apparent within a few hours; the body temperature falls – algor mortis (not Al Gore mortis) – because oxygen cannot get to body cells; and bacteria move from the gastrointestinal track throughout the body because our immune system is no longer functioning, causing putrefaction and bloating of our tissues which proceeds with increasing rapidity the higher the surrounding temperature. Such decomposition can be very prominent within 24 hours on a hot summer’s day.