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What Mom Needs to Know – The Correct Way to Measure a Fever

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • There are several different methods of taking a child’s temperature. Which one you use will depend on your child’s age and your personal preferences.
  • If the temperature under the armpit, in the mouth or in the ear is above 37.5 degrees Celsius, or is above 38 degrees Celsius in the anus, then this means the child may have a fever.

What Mom Needs to Know – The Correct Way to Measure a Fever

Mothers have probably come across the problem of their child’s temperatures never being the same each time it is measured. This might be because the temperature is not being measured in the correct way. Let us have a look at the different ways to measure a child’s temperature and find the technique that you should use in order to get the most accurate measurement.

Measuring under the armpit

This is suitable for children of all ages but you have to make sure that the mercury tip of the thermometer is under the armpit and is left there for 2-3 minutes in order to get an accurate measurement. This is an easy and convenient way but can sometimes take a long time because the child might fidget, which moves the mercury tip and causes an inaccurate measurement.

Measuring in the mouth

This is suitable for children of the age of 5 years old and above. This is because children under 5 years old might not be able to put the thermometer in their mouth correctly and bite it instead. They should place it under their tongue because there are many blood vessels there, and this will get a more accurate temperature reading. Place the thermometer in the mouth for 3 minutes. Whilst measuring the temperature, the child should not breathe through their mouth. They should also avoid drinking anything hot or cold 15 minutes before having their temperature taken in this way.

Measuring in the ear

This is suitable for children from the age of the 3 months and above. This is because the ear canal is large enough for infrared light to reach the ear’s membrane. This does not take long, only 2-3 seconds, and the measurement is pretty accurate. Whilst measuring, you should pull the back of the ear slightly backwards in order to straighten the ear. You should measure the temperature at least twice in order to get a more accurate measurement. There might be a discrepancy in the measurement if the child is too small as the ear canal will be too small or if a child has too much earwax.

Measuring in the anus

This way will get the most accurate temperature measurement. This is suitable for children under the age of 1-year-old. Put Vaseline on the mercury tip and place it about 1 inch (2.5cm) into the anus and leave it there for 2 minutes. You must keep a tight hold of the thermometer to make sure that it does not go too far into the anus. You can do this with the child lying face down or on his or her side. If you do not do this properly, it can cause a wound and make it difficult to take a measurement.

Measuring on the skin

This is done by using a skin thermometer. This is suitable for children of all ages. You must check to see if there is any sweat first. If the skin is clear, then stick the skin thermometer to the forehead for about 15 seconds until the digital reading is visible. The problem with this way is that there can easily be a discrepancy in the measurements of the temperature.

There are currently many different types of thermometers being used, such as:

  • Glass thermometer. This breaks easily and has silver mercury inside. You have to make sure that the mercury is at 35 degrees Celsius but it can be difficult to read.
  • Digital thermometer. This is convenient and there is a warning sound once the temperature is constant. It is easy to read but is expensive. It is easily broken if dropped or comes in contact with water.

If the temperature under the armpit, in the mouth or in the ear is above 37.5 degrees Celsius, or is above 38 degrees Celsius in the anus, then this means the child may have a fever.


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Recommended Doctor

Piyarat Lertbunnaphong, M.D. Summary: Pediatrics Pediatric Endocrinology And Metabolism

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