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Selecting The Most Appropriate Thermometer

- Mar 23, 2018 -

Selecting the Most Appropriate Thermometer 


Fevers are reflective of an increase in your body temperature. Mild fevers are often beneficial because they represent the body trying to defend itself against infections. Many disease-causing (pathogenic) microorganisms thrive in a narrow temperature range, so a mild fever prevents them from reproducing.[1] However, some fevers may be related to connective tissue disease or malignancies. High fevers (103 °F or 39.4 °C or greater for an adult) are potentially dangerous and should be closely monitored with a thermometer. There are many types and models of thermometers meant for different areas of the body. The most appropriate choice is typically determined by the age of the person with the fever — some thermometers are better for small children, for example. Once you've chosen the most appropriate thermometer, using it is relatively straightforward.


1.Take rectal temperature readings on newborns. The best or most appropriate type of thermometer and where to measure body temperature depends mostly on age. From birth to about six months of age, using a regular digital thermometer to take a rectal (anal) temperature is recommended because it's considered the most accurate.[2]

  • Earwax, ear infections, and small, curved ear canals interfere with the accuracy of ear thermometers (also called tympanic thermometers), so they are not the best types to use for newborns.

  • Some research suggests that temporal artery thermometers are also good options for newborns due to accuracy and reproducibility. The temporal artery can be seen in the temple region of the head.

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against using old-style glass thermometers that contain mercury.[3] The glass can break and mercury is poisonous to people, so digital thermometers are safer options.

newborns rectal test.png

2.Choose where to measure temperature on toddlers cautiously. Up to an age of about three years (and maybe as old as five), a rectal reading from a digital thermometer still provides the most accurate reading for core body temperature.[4] You can use a digital ear thermometer at younger ages to get general readings (better than no reading at all), but until about the age of three years or so, readings from the rectum, armpit, and temporal artery are considered more accurate. Because mild-to-moderate fevers in toddlers can be more dangerous than in adults, an accurate temperature reading during the younger years is particularly important.

  • Ear infections are common and occur with regular frequency in newborns and toddlers, which affect the readings of infrared ear thermometers due to inflammation within the ear. Consequently, ear thermometers typically give overly high readings with ear infections.

  • Regular digital thermometers are pretty versatile and can record temperatures from the mouth (under the tongue), armpit, or rectum and are appropriate to use on newborns, toddlers, older children, and adults.

baby armpit test themperature.png

3.Choose any thermometer and measure any area for older children and adults.Beyond three-to-five years of age, kids tend to get fewer ear infections and it's much easier to clean their ears and remove wax build up. Wax in the ear canal prevents ear thermometers from accurately reading the infrared radiation coming off the eardrum.[5]Furthermore, children's ear canals eventually grow and become less curved. Consequently, beyond three-to-five years of age, all types of thermometers used in most areas of the body are pretty comparable in terms of accuracy.

  • Digital ear thermometers are often considered the quickest, easiest, and least messy way of taking body temperatures.

  • Using a regular digital thermometer rectally is very accurate, but likely the most unpleasant and messy way of recording body temperature.

  • Heat sensitive strips that stick onto the forehead are convenient and affordable, but not as precise of accurate compared to digital thermometers.[6]

  • There are also "forehead" thermometers that are different from plastic strip thermometers. These are more expensive, usually used in the hospital setting, and utilize infrared technology to obtain readings at the temporal region.

different kinds of digital themoemters.png



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