Different types of thermometers
You can take a temperature reading using the mouth (oral), anus (rectal), armpit (axillary), or ear (tympanic). But the temperature readings vary depending on which one you use, and you need an accurate body temperature to determine if a fever is present or not. In order to obtain a precise temperature reading, good command of the measurement technique is required as well as correct measuring device. The thermometer probe must be placed as close as possible to the warmest part of the body. An incorrectly placed probe could lead to a false temperature reading. There are several ways to get a temperature reading. This includes
Oral temperature: The average normal oral temperature is 37°C (98.6°F).This temperature is easily influenced by recent ingested food or drinks and by breathing through the mouth. To measure oral temperature, the mouth must remain closed and the tongue lowered for three to four minutes which is sometimes very difficult task for young children to accomplish.
Rectal temperature: Rectal temperatures are generally thought to be the most accurate for checking a young child’s temperature. Rectal thermometers are the most accurate way to take your baby’s temperature .A rectal temperature is 0.3°C (0.5°F) to 0.6°C (1°F) higher than an oral temperature. When a baby is an infant, having a temperature reading that’s even a few degrees off might make the difference of needing a trip to the hospital or not .Rectal thermometers are typically designed with a flexible tip and wide base to prevent you from inserting the thermometer too far and causing injury to your baby rectum however appropriate sterilization techniques is required when using this method to prevent cross infection.
Multi-use thermometers: also called digital thermometers, these feature a metal tip at one end and can be used orally, rectally, or axillary (under the arm). These can give very accurate readings, specifically when used rectally. However, it is not designed to prevent you from inserting the tip too far which could be dangerous. If used under the arm, this provides the least accurate reading especially if your child is fidgety
Ear/ tympanic thermometers: these kind of thermometers make use of an infrared ray to measure the temperature inside the child’s ear canal. This thermometers are very popular and easy to use. However, they are not always the most accurate and shouldn’t be used on children under three months of age due to their smaller ear canals passage. They are safe to use for babies 6 months or older.
Temporal Artery/forehead thermometer: this type of thermometers are excellent and very accurate. They are overall the best thermometer for any age since they are quick and safe to use, and requires no contact with the baby. However, a rectal thermometer is the most trustworthy .This type uses infrared technology to measure the heat given off by the temporal artery.
Axillary /armpit temperature: if your baby has diarrhea or any other sickness that might make it too uncomfortable to use a rectal thermometer axillary/armpit is the way to go. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended this thermometer as a screening test for fever in newborns.
Of course, using an armpit thermometer is only possible if your baby will stay still for the few minutes needed to take an accurate temperature reading.
Choosing What’s Right for You
Remember that the rectal thermometers is the golden tool for measuring your newborns temperature. You’ll need to wait until at least six months of age to use the forehead or ear thermometer when on need to take temperature of your baby, and until four years old to use a thermometer in the mouth or under the arm. Infrared non-contact and contact thermometer on the other hand can be used on either age group but the right thermometer for you and your family is the one you will feel comfortable using. Armed with a thermometer and a good pediatrician, you can rest assured that your baby will get the care they need when they need it and the thermometer that you choose you are less assure it won’t let your down.