Choosing the right thermometer
Temperatures are taken most commonly in the mouth (orally), in the bottom (rectally), under the arm (axillary), on the forehead (temple/forehead) or in the ear (tympanic).
Each method is considered accurate when done correctly. Temperature readings can differ slightly depending on the method, so be sure to use the same method for consistency.
Types of thermometers
- Rectal: Taking rectal temperatures has been common practice for decades. However, this method is invasive and may be uncomfortable, bearing risk of causing local injury or cross-contamination.
- Oral: The mouth is a commonly used site to measure temperature. However, proper technique is critical and readings can be affected by external factors, such as eating, drinking, or breathing. Measuring temperature in the mouth requires your child's cooperation and is not suitable for young infants.
- Under the arm: Measurements under the arm are convenient, especially for children too old for rectal and too young for oral. However, this method is not always reliable and should only be used as a general screening.
- Forehead: Forehead thermometers measure the infrared heat waves emitted through the surface of the skin. This method is non-invasive and gentle, and many forehead thermometers display readings within just a few seconds. However, it is important to note that skin measurements can be influenced by air temperature, sweating or other factors. Be sure to read the instructions for use to ensure an accurate reading.
- Ear: The eardrum shares the same blood supply as the temperature control center in the brain (the hypothalamus). Ear temperatures can accurately reflect changes in core body temperature without a significant time lag. The ear is an easily accessible site for temperature measurement. As with all thermometers, proper technique, as described in the instructions for use, is important to ensure a reliable reading. Not every ear thermometer is the same. Only Braun features a unique, patented tip designed to minimize the cooling effect of the tip inside the ear canal, providing accurate measurements time after time.