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Body Temperature

Test Overview

Body temperature is a measure of how well your body can make and get rid of heat. The body is very good at keeping its temperature within a safe range, even when temperatures outside the body change a lot.

  • When you are too hot, the blood vessels in your skin widen to carry the excess heat to your skin's surface. You may start to sweat. As the sweat evaporates, it helps cool your body.
  • When you are too cold, your blood vessels narrow. This reduces blood flow to your skin to save body heat. You may start to shiver. When the muscles tremble this way, it helps to make more heat.

Your body temperature can be measured in many places on your body. The most common ones are the mouth, the ear, the armpit, and the rectum. Temperature can also be measured on your forehead.

Thermometers show body temperature in either degrees Fahrenheit (°F) or degrees Celsius (°C). In the United States, temperatures are often measured in degrees Fahrenheit. The standard in most other countries is degrees Celsius.

Why It Is Done

Body temperature is measured to:

  • Check for fever.
  • Check for a very low body temperature in people who have been exposed to cold.
  • Check for a very high body temperature in people who have been exposed to heat.
  • Find out how well a fever-reducing medicine is working.
  • Help a woman plan for pregnancy by finding out if she is ovulating.

How To Prepare

Take your temperature a few times when you are well. This will help you find out what is normal for you. Check your temperature in both the morning and evening. Body temperature can vary by as much as 1°F (0.6°C) during the day.

Before you take your temperature:

  • Wait at least 20 to 30 minutes after you smoke, you eat, or you drink a hot or cold liquid.
  • Wait at least an hour after hard exercise or a hot bath.

Glass thermometers that contain mercury aren't recommended. If you have a glass thermometer, contact your local health department to find out how to dispose of it safely. If you break a glass thermometer, call your local poison control center right away.

How It Is Done

Oral (by mouth) temperature

Oral (by mouth) is the most common method of taking a temperature. For you to get an accurate reading, the person must be able to breathe through their nose. If they can't, then use the rectum, ear, or armpit to take the temperature.

Before you take a temperature, read the instructions for how to use your type of thermometer.

  1. Place the thermometer under the tongue, just to one side of the center.

    Ask the person to close their lips tightly around it.

  2. Leave the thermometer in place for the required amount of time.

    Time yourself with a clock or watch. Some digital thermometers give a series of short beeps when the reading is done.

  3. Remove the thermometer, and read it.
  4. Clean the thermometer.

    Clean a digital thermometer with cool, soapy water, and rinse it off before you put it away.

Rectal temperature

This is the most accurate way to measure body temperature. It's recommended for babies, small children, and people who can't hold a thermometer safely in their mouths. It's also used when it is very important to get the most accurate reading. Don't use a thermometer to take an oral temperature after it has been used to take a rectal temperature.

Before you take a temperature, read the instructions for how to use your type of thermometer.

  1. Apply a lubricant jelly or petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, on the bulb of the thermometer.

    This will make it easy to insert.

  2. With a baby or small child, turn the child facedown on your lap or on a flat surface that's covered or padded, such as a bed.

    Choose a quiet place so that the child won't be distracted or move around too much.

  3. Insert the thermometer.
    1. Spread the child's buttocks with one hand. With the other hand, gently insert the bulb end of the thermometer into the anus.
    2. Push it in about 0.5 in. (1.25 cm) to 1 in. (2.5 cm). Don't force it into the rectum.
    3. Hold the thermometer in place with two fingers close to the anus (not near the end of the thermometer). Pressing the child's buttocks together will help keep the thermometer in place.
  4. Leave the thermometer in place for the required amount of time.

    Time yourself with a watch or clock. Some digital thermometers give a series of short beeps when the reading is done.

  5. Remove the thermometer and read it.
  6. Clean a digital thermometer with cool, soapy water and rinse it off before you put it away.

Armpit temperature

Taking a temperature in the armpit may not be as accurate as taking an oral or rectal temperature.

Before you take a temperature, read the instructions for how to use your type of thermometer.

  1. Place the thermometer under the arm, with the bulb in the center of the armpit.
  2. Press the arm against the body, and leave the thermometer in place for the required amount of time.

    Time yourself with a watch or clock.

  3. Remove the thermometer and read it.

    An armpit temperature reading may be as much as 1°F (0.6°C) lower than an oral temperature reading.

  4. Clean a digital thermometer with cool, soapy water and rinse it off before you put it away.

Ear temperature

Ear thermometers may need to be cleaned before they are used.

Before you take a temperature, read the instructions for how to use your type of thermometer.

  1. Check that the probe is clean and free of debris.

    If dirty, wipe it gently with a clean cloth. Do not put the thermometer underwater.

  2. To keep the probe clean, use a disposable probe cover.

    Use a new cover each time you take an ear temperature.

  3. Turn on the thermometer, and pull the earlobe.
    • For babies younger than 12 months, gently pull the earlobe down and back.
    • For children older than 12 months and for adults, pull the earlobe up and back. This will help you place the probe in the ear canal.
  4. Center the probe tip in the ear, and push gently inward toward the eardrum.

    Do not force it in.

  5. Press the "on" button to display the temperature reading.
  6. Remove the thermometer, and throw away the used probe cover.

Temporal artery temperature

Before you take a temperature, read the instructions for how to use your type of thermometer.

  1. Remove the cap over the cup part of the thermometer, if it has a cap.
  2. Turn on the thermometer.
  3. Place the thermometer cup on the skin in the center of the forehead.

    Make sure nothing is between the thermometer cup and the skin.

  4. Press the button for making a measurement.
  5. Slide the thermometer across the forehead to one side (not up or down).
  6. Listen for a sound.

    Most of these thermometers make a beep or other sound when they are ready to read.

  7. Remove the thermometer from the forehead, and read the temperature.

Forehead temperature

Forehead thermometers aren't as accurate as electronic and ear thermometers. If your baby is younger than age 3 months or your child's fever rises higher than 102°F (39°C), check the temperature again using a better method.

Before you take a temperature, read the instructions for how to use your type of thermometer.

  1. Press the entire plastic strip firmly against a dry forehead.
  2. Hold the strip in place for the required amount of time.

    Time yourself with a watch or clock.

  3. Read the temperature before removing the thermometer.
  4. Clean the thermometer with cool soapy water and rinse it off before you put it away.

Pacifier thermometer

Pacifier thermometers are not as accurate as electronic and ear thermometers. If your baby is younger than age 3 months or your child's fever rises higher than 102°F (39°C), check the temperature again using a better method.

Before you take a temperature, read the instructions for how to use your type of thermometer.

  1. If your thermometer can also be used as a regular pacifier, attach the temperature part.
  2. Let your child suck on the nipple for the required amount of time.

    Time yourself with a watch or clock.

  3. Remove the pacifier, and read the temperature.
  4. Clean the pacifier with cool, soapy water and rinse it off before you put it away.

Watch

How It Feels

Taking an oral temperature causes only mild discomfort. You have to keep the thermometer under your tongue and hold it in place with your lips.

Taking a rectal temperature can cause a little discomfort, but it should not be painful.

Taking an ear temperature causes little or no discomfort. The probe is not inserted very far into the ear, and it gives a reading in only a few seconds.

Taking a temporal artery, forehead, or armpit temperature does not cause any discomfort.

Risks

There is very little chance of having a problem from this test.

When taking a rectal temperature, do not push the thermometer in more than 0.5 in. (1.25 cm) to 1 in. (2.5 cm). Pushing it farther can be painful and may damage the rectum.

Results

If you tell your doctor about your temperature reading, be sure to say where it was taken: on the forehead or in the mouth, rectum, armpit, or ear.

Normal:

The average normal temperature is 98.6°F (37°C). But that may not be normal for you. Your temperature also changes during the day. It is usually lowest in the early morning. It may rise as much as 1°F (0.6°C) in the early evening. Your temperature may also rise by 1°F (0.6°C) or more if you exercise on a hot day.

A woman's body temperature often changes by 1°F (0.6°C) or more through her menstrual cycle. It peaks around the time she ovulates.

Abnormal:

Oral, ear, rectal, or temporal artery temperature

  • Fever: 100.4°F (38°C) to 103.9°F (39.9°C)
  • High fever: 104°F (40°C) and higher

Armpit temperature

  • Fever: 99.4°F (37.4°C) to 102.9°F (39.4°C)
  • High fever: 103°F (39.5°C) and higher

A rectal or ear temperature of less than 97°F (36.1°C) is a low body temperature (hypothermia).

Comparing temperature types

You can take a temperature 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 measurement to know if a fever is present.

Medical research hasn't found an exact correlation between oral, rectal, ear, armpit, and forehead temperature measurements. In general, here's how the temperatures compare:

  • The average normal oral temperature is 98.6°F (37°C).
  • A rectal temperature is 0.5 F (0.3 C) to 1 F (0.6 C) higher than an oral temperature.
  • An ear (tympanic) temperature is 0.5 F (0.3 C) to 1 F (0.6 C) higher than an oral temperature.
  • An armpit (axillary) temperature is usually 0.5 F (0.3 C) to 1 F (0.6 C) lower than an oral temperature.
  • A forehead (temporal) scanner is usually 0.5 F (0.3 C) to 1 F (0.6 C) lower than an oral temperature.

Credits

Current as of: February 26, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
David Messenger MD - Emergency Medicine, Critical Care Medicine

Current as of: February 26, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review:Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & John Pope MD - Pediatrics & David Messenger MD - Emergency Medicine, Critical Care Medicine

Sours: https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hw198785

When to take your child’s temperature

You might want to take your child’s temperature if your child is:

  • unwell and feels warmer than usual
  • irritable and crying
  • more sleepy than usual
  • in pain
  • refusing to drink
  • vomiting.

The average body temperature for children is about 37°C. If your child’s temperature is higher than 38°C, they probably have a fever.

Types of thermometers

It’s best to check your child’s temperature using a thermometer. Feeling your child’s skin temperature by putting your hand to their forehead isn’t a reliable way of diagnosing a fever.

Most modern thermometers are digital thermometers.

Digital probe thermometers
Digital probe thermometers are the most basic and common types of thermometers.

You can use a digital probe thermometer to take your child’s temperature in two main ways:

  • Orally – you put the thermometer in your child’s mouth under the tongue.
  • Axillary – you put the thermometer under your child’s armpit.

If you plan to check your child’s temperature orally and under their armpit using the same thermometer, make sure to clean it well between each use. You can clean a thermometer using warm soapy water or an alcohol wipe.

Although you can use a digital probe thermometer to take a rectal temperature reading, this isn’t recommended. There’s a risk that the tip of the thermometer could damage the lining of your child’s rectum.

Digital ear thermometers
Digital ear thermometers are specially designed for use in children’s ears. Ear thermometers are quick and easy to use, but they can be a little inaccurate.

Digital forehead or temporal artery thermometers
Digital temporal artery thermometers measure the temperature on your child’s forehead.

These are the easiest types of thermometers to use, but they can be inaccurate. It's better to use a different type of thermometer if you have one.

Other thermometers
Digital pacifier thermometers, fever strips and smartphone apps aren’t recommended because they’re not very accurate.

Mercury thermometers can poison a child if they break. If you’re using a mercury thermometer, consider replacing it with one of the types of digital thermometers above.

An oral temperature reading using a digital probe thermometer is usually the most accurate way to take a temperature.

Taking your child’s temperature

No matter what kind of thermometer you have, it’s important to carefully read the instructions that come with it before using it for the first time.

Here are more tips to help you take your child’s temperature accurately.

Oral temperatures
You take an oral temperature using a probe thermometer:

  • Wait five minutes after your child has had a hot or cold drink.
  • Place the thermometer well under one side of your child’s tongue.
  • Have your child hold it in place with their lips, not their teeth, and tell them to breathe through their nose.
  • Wait until the thermometer beeps and then check the digital display for the temperature reading.

If your child has a blocked nose because of a cold, they might find it hard to breathe with their mouth closed.

You can take oral temperatures in children over four years. It’s hard to take an oral temperature in children younger than this, because they can’t always co-operate with you.

Armpit temperatures
You take an armpit temperature using a probe thermometer:

  • Place the thermometer in your child’s armpit.
  • Close your child’s arm over the thermometer, holding their elbow against their body.
  • Wait until the thermometer beeps and then check the digital display for the temperature reading.

Taking your child’s temperature under the armpit is usually the easiest way to do it, especially in young children. Unfortunately, it’s also less accurate than an oral temperature reading.

Ear temperatures
You take an ear temperature using an ear thermometer:

  • Put a plastic cover over the tip of the thermometer.
  • Put the tip gently just inside your child’s ear canal.
  • Wait until the thermometer beeps and then check the digital display for the temperature reading.

Digital ear thermometers are fairly accurate, but readings can be affected by small ear canals and earwax.

Forehead temperatures
You take a forehead temperature using a temporal artery thermometer:

  • Check that your child’s forehead is dry before starting.
  • Gently scan the thermometer across your child’s forehead.
  • Remove the thermometer and then check the digital display for the temperature reading.

Your GP or child and family health nurse can show you how to get a fairly accurate reading using a thermometer.

When to see a doctor about fever and high temperature

Babies under three months who have a fever should be taken to a hospital emergency department straight away. This is because it’s harder to tell whether they have a serious underlying illness.

In children aged 3-12 months, fever might be a sign of a more significant illness, so seek medical advice from your GP within the same day.

In children over 12 months, go to a hospital emergency department or call an ambulance straight away if your child has fever and/or other signs of serious illness like severe pain, drowsiness, pale or blue skin, dehydration, troubled breathing, a stiff neck, persistent vomiting and reduced responsiveness.

If your child’s fever lasts more than four days, see your GP.

It’s normal for your child’s temperature to go up and down when they have a fever. Your child’s temperature will also be affected by when they last took medication. You can take your child’s temperature as often as you want, but the most important thing is to watch your child for signs of serious illness.

Sours: https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/health-daily-care/health-concerns/taking-your-childs-temperature
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Sick boy with thermometer laying in bed and mother hand taking temperature. Mother checking temperature of her sick son who has thermometer in his mouth. Sick child with fever and illness while resting in bed.
Sours: https://www.123rf.com/stock-photo/fever_thermometer.html
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What's a Fever?

You come home from school feeling awful with a sore throat. Your mom takes your temperature with a thermometer. Within a few minutes, you hear the word fever.

But what are fevers, exactly? Why do kids get them? Why do parents and doctors care so much about them? Let's find out.

What Causes a Fever?

Most human beings have a body temperature of around 98.6°F (37°C). Some people will have a normal temperature that's a little higher; others will have a normal temperature that's a little lower.

Most people's body temperatures even change a little bit during the course of the day: It is usually a little lower in the morning and a little higher in the evening. For most kids, their body temperature stays pretty much the same from day to day — until germs enter the picture.

Remember that strep throat that made you feel so rotten? Or another time when the flu made you feel tired and achy? These kinds of infections are caused by germs that make their way into your body, usually in the form of bacteria (say: bak-TEER-ee-uh) or viruses.

When these germs march in and make you sick, your body's thermostat goes higher. Instead of saying your body should be 98.6°F (37°C), your body's thermostat might say that it should be 102°F (38.9°C).

Why does your body change to a new temperature? Researchers believe turning up the heat is the body's way of fighting the germs and making your body a less comfortable place for them.

A fever is also a good signal to you, your parents, and your doctor that you are sick. Without a fever, it's much harder to tell if a person has an infection. That's why grown-ups are concerned when you have a fever.

Fighting a Fever

For almost all kids, fevers aren't a big problem. When the cause of the fever is treated or goes away on its own, your body temperature comes back down to normal and you feel like your old self again. Most doctors agree that many kids with a fever don't need to take any special medicine unless their fevers are making them uncomfortable.

If a kid has a higher fever and feels uncomfortable, the doctor might tell a parent to give the child medicine. The two medicines most often recommended are acetaminophen (say: uh-SEE-tuh-min-uh-fen) or ibuprofen (say: eye-byoo-PRO-fen). The medicine blocks the chemicals that tell the body to turn up the heat. Kids should never take aspirin to treat a fever because it can cause a rare but serious illness.

If you have a fever, your mom or dad will probably ask you to drink more fluids than usual. That's important because as your body heats up, it's easy for it to get dehydrated (say: dee-HI-dray-ted). This means there isn't enough water in your body. You have a lot of choices when it comes to fluids — juice, water, sports drinks, soup, flavored gelatin, and even ice pops.

Before you know it, your mom or dad will pull the thermometer out of your mouth and say, "Your temperature is normal. No more fever!"

Sours: https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/fever.html

Pictures fever thermometer

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