Thermometers: How to Take your Temperature
How to use a digital thermometer?
A digital thermometer can be used three different ways. These include:
- Oral: For this method, the thermometer is placed under the tongue. This method is used for adults and children 4 and over who are able to hold thermometer in mouth.
- Rectal: For this method, the thermometer is inserted gently into the rectum. This is mostly done in babies but can used in children up to 3 years of age. You can take rectal temperatures in children older than 3 years, but it might be difficult to keep them as still as they need to stay.
- Axillary: For this method, the thermometer is placed in the armpit for young children or adults whose temperature can’t safely be done orally. This method is not as accurate as oral or rectal but can be used as a quick first check. You can follow this with an oral or rectal reading.
Other types of thermometers (young children and adults):
Tympanic (ear): This type of thermometer measures the temperature inside of the ear by reading the infrared heat there. For best results, make sure to follow the instructions on the device about placing the tip correctly. For older babies and children, ear thermometers can be quicker and easier to use. However, they are not recommended if your baby is three months old or younger. They should not be used if your child has too much earwax, or if they have an earache.
Ear (tympanic) thermometer
Temporal artery (forehead): Forehead thermometers are also used to measure temperature, but may not be as reliable as the digital thermometers and are usually more expensive. They are placed on the temporal artery of the forehead and measure the infrared heat that comes off of the head.
Forehead (temporal artery) thermometer
What types of thermometers aren’t recommended?
Some thermometers aren’t recommended due to their inaccuracy.
- Plastic strip thermometers only measure the skin temperature.
- Pacifier thermometers are not precise and are difficult to use correctly because they have to stay in the child’s mouth for long enough to record a temperature.
- Smartphone app thermometers.