Different types of thermometer to measure a child's fever

Contributed by : Palak Vyas   
Different types of thermometer to measure a child's fever

There are several thermometers available and different ways to measure the temperature during a fever.

There are different types of thermometer available in the market:

  1. Glass thermometer with mercury
  2. Glass thermometer without mercury
  3. Digital thermometer

Glass thermometer can be of two types depending upon its usage - rectal thermometer and an oral thermometer.

There are several ways to take your child’s temperature:

Rectal Method (by the rectum or buttocks):

  • Use a thermometer with a stubby tip.
  • Put a diaper or other cloth across your lap. Put your child over that diaper or cloth on his/her stomach or back; whichever way is comfortable for the child.
  • Put a little amount of petroleum jelly on the tip of the thermometer.
  • Insert the tip gently without giving any pressure, into the rectum. Do not try to force it at all.
  • The silver tip of the thermometer is half an inch. If your child is less than 3 months old, insert only half an inch, that is just the silver tip of the thermometer.
  • If your child is above 3 months, insert as deep as 1 inch, not more than that.
  • Hold the thermometer in place. A digital thermometer makes a beep sound in 30 seconds. Glass thermometers take longer, approximately 3 minutes. Take the thermometer out and read the temperature.
  • Measuring the temperature via the rectal method is a bit tricky hence it Is advisable to be done only by healthcare experts, not at home.

Oral Method (by mouth):

  • Use an oral thermometer, the one with a thin long tip.
  • Do not give anything hot or cold to the child for 20 minutes before measuring the temperature.
  • Place the tip of the thermometer in your child’s mouth, under the tongue and close to the mouth.
  • You will have to hold a thermometer for him/her. A beep sound comes in 30 seconds with a digital thermometer. For glass thermometers, hold in place for 3 minutes. Take the thermometer out and read the temperature.
  • If your child is very young, this method is not advisable as they might bite on to the thermometer and hurting themselves.

Axillary Method (under the armpit):

  • Here, you can use an oral thermometer.
  • See that your child’s underarm is dry, or else wipe it dry first.
  • The tip of the thermometer is directly placed in the armpit.
  • Press the child’s upper arm against his chest to keep the arm still and the thermometer in place.
  • Digital thermometers may take longer than 30 seconds before beeping when using this method. Using glass thermometer can be tedious because it takes 7-10 minutes which is too long for a child to be still.
  • This is the safest method to use at home.

Temporal artery Method (forehead):

  • Temporal artery thermometer is an infrared device that scans the temporal artery and shows temperature.
  • Put it straight across the forehead, to the temporal area and not down the side of the face.
  • Remove, read and record the temperature.
  • The device used here is expensive compared to a digital thermometer.

Tympanic Method (in the ear):

  • If your child has been outdoors on a cold day or is overheated because of playing, he needs to be inside for 15 minutes before taking the temperature this way.
  • Slowly pull your child’s ear backwards to straighten the ear canal (back and up if your child is over 1 year old).
  • Gently put the tip of the thermometer in the ear until it stops. The tip should point to the space between the eye and the ear on the other side of the head.
  • Within two seconds you will hear a beep sound, take it out and read the temperature.
  • This is also a risky method as children tend to move a lot and might get hurt in the ear.

Whenever you are using any type of thermometer or whichever the method you use, always be careful and hold the thermometer in place until you get the reading.

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