Taking a Temperature

When the fever’s turned up, which thermometer do you reach for? Study tells us quick and easy doesn’t always mean accurate.

It sometimes takes the entire Hill family to get baby Christopher’s temperature. His mother, Andrea, says, “It’s kind of hard to hold a thermometer under a baby’s arm for three to four minutes because they’re going to squirm and squirm.”

That’s why ear thermometers are so attractive. They’re quick and painless, but are they accurate? The problem with most of the ear thermometers on the market today is they can be very inaccurate, and the person using it would have no way of knowing.

In some cases, ear thermometers to be off up to four degrees. Mercury thermometers are the most accurate.

The way we prefer it to be done would be to try under the arm as a screening temp first. If that’s elevated on an infant, we need a rectal temperature, and that is important. On an older child we get an oral temperature or temperature by mouth.

Digital thermometers were found to be more reliable than ear thermometers, but for the most accurate temperature reading, use a mercury thermometer.

Some of the newer models of ear thermometers are more reliable than the old ones. Do your own test at home on a healthy adult to see if temperatures vary ear to ear and then compare it to an oral temperature.

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